Women's Health Advocates Celebrate Champions of Latina Health

June 24, 2011 at 12:35pm


Contact: Planned Parenthood Media Office, 212-261-4433


Women’s Health Advocates Celebrate Champions of Latina Health


San Antonio, TX — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas will join the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), Catholics for Choice, EMILY’s List, and Annie’s List as co-hosts of a reception celebrating champions for Latina health during the 28th Annual Conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

“It is exciting to watch Texas become an increasingly diverse state, and I am excited about this special reception,” said Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Trust of South Texas.  “In San Antonio — where a national minority is the majority — Latino lawmakers are seen as a natural expression of who we are as a community.  We want to express our deep appreciation to Latino elected and appointed officials and their great work to champion family planning and women’s health.”

"EMILY's List is delighted to co-host this event,” said Stephanie Schriock, EMILY's List president. “We know that putting women's health first helps strengthen families and communities. We are thrilled to get to Texas and celebrate the work being done on behalf of women's health.” 

The Champions for Latina Health Reception will be held at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio on June 25, with 25 elected and appointed officials from Texas serving as honorary co-hosts. They include Congressman Charles Gonzalez and the Honorable Sylvia R. Garcia, president of NALEO. “Latinas are no different from other women,” NALEO President Garcia said.  “We care about our health and we care about our families.  Quality and accessible health services are critical for all of us.”

“Better access to preventive health care helps keep Hispanic women healthier throughout their lives,” Congressman Gonzalez said.  “Millions of Hispanic women and their families depend on access to family planning health centers for basic services like breast cancer screenings, immunizations, and blood pressure testing.  It is critical that we continue to fight to protect their health and to ensure access to quality care.”

This is a unique opportunity to celebrate leading women’s health champions throughout the country at a time when Latinas’ access to reproductive health care is under attack.  These mounting efforts to restrict or eliminate women’s health programs threaten the health and well-being of Latinas and their families. 

“Protecting the health of Latinas is one of our highest priorities,” CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Peter J. Durkin said.  “These champions of women’s health are helping us sustain access to safe and affordable care for the Latina population.”

Besides trying to cut health programs that serve large numbers of Latinas, some state and federal lawmakers are trying to bar Planned Parenthood health centers from providing care through publicly funded health programs.  Nearly three-quarters of Planned Parenthood health centers serve women living in medically underserved or rural areas.

“Planned Parenthood celebrates champions for Latina health today and every day,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “

Attacks on Planned Parenthood are attacks on the health and well-being of Latinas and their families.  Without the leadership and commitment of people like Congressman Gonzalez and NALEO President Sylvia R. Garcia, and the countless other Latinos and Latinas in elected and appointed office, Latino communities would see their reproductive rights stripped away and their health suffer.”

“We know that most Latina and Catholic women use contraception — even though the bishops oppose it,” Catholics for Choice President Jon O'Brien said.  “It’s clear that the bishops don’t represent Catholic Latinas.   Policymakers who support women’s health are our best representatives, because they respect each woman’s right to make her own decisions about what’s best for herself and her family."

In the nine states where the Latino population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, all but one have seen significant activity to restrict access to reproductive health care. The restrictions include prohibiting comprehensive sex education programs in schools in favor of abstinence-only programs; cutting or eliminating state funding for family planning or banning certain providers from participating; and restricting access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion.

“As the only national organization dedicated to advancing reproductive health and justice for Latinas, their families and their communities, NLIRH is grateful for the courage and commitment that our legislative champions have expressed on issues such as family planning funding, abortion access, and immigrant women’s rights,” said NLIRH Interim Executive Director Maria Elena Perez.