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Protests Highlight Texas Antiabortion-Rights Law's Disproportionate Effect on Latinas

January 9, 2015 — Abortion-rights supporters from several states on Wednesday held demonstrations after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case challenging a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) to spotlight how the law disproportionately affects Latinas, the Latin Post reports (Akoukou Thompson, Latin Post, 1/7).

Legal Background

The 5th Circuit case centers on a requirement that abortion clinics in the state meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers and whether abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen should be exempt from a separate provision that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/8).

Overall, HB 2 has resulted in the closure of the majority of the about 40 clinics that were operating in the state prior to the law's implementation (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/6). If implemented, the provisions currently before the court could close more than 50% of the state's remaining abortion clinics (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/8).

Details of Demonstration

Representatives from several abortion-rights groups attended the demonstration, including the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and the New Orleans Abortion Fund.

Ana Rodriguez DeFrates, Texas director for policy and advocacy at NLIRH, said the demonstration highlighted the importance of funding for preventive care and family planning.

Further, Rodriguez DeFrates said HB 2 "hurts Latinas, in particular" because "Texas' Latino women already face formidable barriers when attempting to access healthcare they need; via transportation, immigration, language and a number of concerns like that." Latinas represent 40% of Texas' female population, according to the Post.

Rodriguez DeFrates also noted that her group, in traveling from Texas to New Orleans for the hearing, had passed an internal immigration checkpoint. She said that while the people in her group were documented, such checkpoints could be particularly intimidating for undocumented women and "have the ... effect of putting abortion care out of reach for immigrant women."

Rodriguez DeFrates also pointed out that the Texas Legislature, in addition to reducing access to abortion, had "cut preventive care," which she said ran counter to antiabortion-rights lawmakers' claims of promoting women's health and safety (Latin Post, 1/7).