By Tannia Esparza, Executive Director, Young Women United
"Mija, I think that a woman should make her own decision about abortion for herself. It’s her body and no one is in her shoes to decide for her." These are the words of my father, a proud immigrant from Michoacán, Mexico, a domestic worker, a brother to five sisters and a father to three daughters. Like my father, many of our Latina/o, Hispanic, and New Mexican communities have been standing with the women of Albuquerque in response to an anti-abortion ballot initiative up for vote on November 19th.
[Photo to the right]: We’re building with local and national Latina leaders like Dolores Huerta who has shown her support for the Respect Albuquerque Women campaign as a New Mexican, as a Catholic, as a Hispanic mother of 11 children, and as a labor rights leader.
In early July 2013, anti-abortion groups submitted a petition proposing a City of Albuquerque ballot measure that would ban abortion after 20 weeks. The proposed initiative has no exceptions for rape, incest, or fetal anomalies, and prohibits doctors from assessing the psychological or emotional well-being of the mother as a factor in determining whether continuing the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life. This is the first attempt to pass an abortion ban at the municipal level in the U.S.
As an Albuquerque-based reproductive justice organizing project by and for young women of color that works to ensure all people have the resources and education necessary to make real decisions about their bodies and lives, Young Women United has always organized with those most impacted by an issue. For years Young Women United has been keeping careful watch over conservative tactics against reproductive rights and has strategized to maintain the access women and families need to the full range of reproductive health options in our state.
Together with women, families, and allied organizations, Young Women United has been proud to be one of the leaders of the Respect Albuquerque Women campaign which is centered on the right of every person to make decisions about abortion for themselves, without the interference of the government. We know that despite huge misconceptions about people of color opposing abortion, our communities understand what it means to have our bodies regulated. We also know that communities of color have been historically left out of conversations about reproductive rights. And finally, we know our communities stand with us when asked if decisions about abortion should remain in the hands of women and families. This is why Young Women United has been working hard to have real and honest conversations with our families, making sure communities of color, LGBTQ people, women of color, and working class people have a say about what happens to our bodies.
[Photos located above left and bottom right]: Young Women United developed communications and messaging strategies alongside our communities to directly reflect our lives and our stories. Paid for in kind by Young Women United, authorized by Respect ABQ Women/Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains/ACLU-NM Foundation and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.
Albuquerque is home to one of the few clinics in the U.S that provide abortion after 20 weeks. If the ballot measure passes, abortions after 20 weeks will be prohibited and unavailable in the Southern corridor of the U.S. — from Georgia to California. At Young Women United, we understand this is an effort to erode access to abortion both at the local and national levels, and it is likely this strategy will be used in other states if it is successful in New Mexico. Regardless of the outcome of this election, our work in defeating this ballot measure is centered on continuing to have meaningful conversations with our communities to build long-term impacts for reproductive justice.