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Thursday, October 20, 2016

A new report on access to reproductive health care in the Rio Grande Valley highlights the human rights violations happening right in the U.S.

During the past three years, more than 150,000 women in Texas have lost access to reproductive health services, thanks to a relentless barrage of laws and policies that have shuttered 76 family planning clinics across the state. A disproportionate number of those women live in the Rio Grande Valley, a region with extreme health disparities and some of the nation’s highest levels of poverty and unemployment.

A recent report – Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Salud, Nuestro Texas – co-authored by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) illustrates the dire impact that three years of draconian policies have had on women in the valley. During a briefing at the Roosevelt Institute last week, Katrina Anderson, Human Rights Counsel at CRR, and Jessica González-Rojas and Diana Lugo-Martinez, NLIRH’s Executive Director and Senior Director of Community Engagement, shared the report’s findings and conveyed the stories and experiences of the more than 180 local women they have interviewed.

Nuestro Texas stands out because it illustrates the deeply personal impact of the state’s restrictions and regulations, but it is also unique because it frames Texas women’s rights as fundamental human rights issues, using international standards – a framing infrequently used when addressing women’s health in the United States.

Communities across Texas are feeling the acute pain of the rapid destruction of a once-robust public health infrastructure, and the most harm has been done along the state’s Southeast border with Mexico. Nine of the Valley’s 32 health clinics have closed, and those remaining open have curtailed hours, reduced staff, increased fees, and eliminated some services. Before the cuts, public clinics in the valley served nearly 20,000 patients. Today they serve just over 5,000.

Nuestro Texas tells the stories of women who now seek care in Mexico, or purchase black-market medications, or forgo family planning and medical care altogether because the barriers of cost, travel, and immigration status are simply too great. Women live with the anxiety of undiagnosed and untreated breast lumps, cervical pain, sexually transmitted diseases, and a host of other adverse health issues.

Beyond declining access to family planning and a full range of women’s health care services, abortion services have all but disappeared in the Valley thanks to the sweeping anti-choice legislation passed last year by the state legislature in Texas. As a result, reports of incidents of self-abortion are becoming commonplace, because without other options women will take the termination of unplanned pregnancies into their own hands, as they did for decades before abortion was legalized in 1973. Even before the 2011 budget cuts and recent abortion restrictions, the estimated rate of self-induced abortion in Texas was more than twice that of the nation overall, and the rate along the border was more than five times greater than the national rate. Recent articles by Andrea Grimes (RH Reality Check) and by Lindsay Bayerstein (The New Republic) illustrate the dire consequences of regulating reproductive health care into obscurity.

Despite the profound stresses women in the valley now endure, at the Roosevelt Institute briefing González-Rojas maintained that they are not simply “victims of systemic barriers.” They are using their voices to advocate for the health and rights of women and families. Outreach workers help navigate immigration and transportation barriers so that women can access needed care in Mexico, if necessary. They host community meetings where women can share their frustrations, fears, and experiences. They teach self-breast exams and educate about the warning signs of sexually transmitted diseases, even though there are few clinics to see women who may need care.

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • leadvillexp

    What is happening is civil rights are being sent back to the 1950’s. Women should decide reproductive rights. It is their body that has to bear the process of child birth. Are we going to relagate women back to chattel of a man? This is the 21st century. This is all religious dogma that causes politicians to take this stand, not science. Women need to stand as a whole, whether they believe in abortion or not. They have to control their own bodies. Oh. I am a male. Take back your rights in Texas!

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      But, according to the GOP, the American Ideal is the same world shown on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and “Leave it to Beaver”. You mean they really weren’t real? You mean America is not like Celebration, Florida? You mean there are really people out there who look, act and think differently from people whose mindset is in a universe that only existed on black-and-white television sets?

      • Avril111

        my Aunty Julia got silver Volkswagen Beetle
        Convertible by working parttime off of a home computer… Look At This

      • docb

        Texass teabags are inhumane on the whole. From Womens rights , to executions, to voting rights and suppression of the vote, to lack of nefarious business inspections, to denying Medical care to 1.4 million residents… Ruled by a cabal of little white males and the stepfords wives that follow them like rats off a ship!

    • daniel bostdorf

      agreed—check out my post at top explaining in detail the global Amenesty International campaign for this that is the basis for this article….great post!!

  • Dominick Vila

    The policies that are being put in place in some Red states (Texas is not the only one) reflect the wishes of the electorate. The far right, mostly the evangelicals and those who still believe the role of a woman is to procreate and bake cookies, don’t see anything wrong with proposing, and writing state laws that marginalize women and ethnic minorities, and relegate them to second class citizen status. I only support abortion in cases such as rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake, but I believe this is an issue for women to decide, not for people like myself to impose on them. BTW, my position on abortion is not influenced by religion, I am an agnostic leaning atheist, but by the fact that contraceptives are available to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

    • daniel bostdorf

      Nice post a usual! But— belieev that women have a fundemental universal human right to control their own bodies for any reason whatsoever, free from restrictions……see my post at top….

    • dpaano

      Dominick….like you, I’m pro-life, but I’m also anti-abortion. But, I believe, as you said, it’s the woman’s decision and it’s between her, her husband, and her doctor!!! The government should stay out of women’s decisions!!! For me, abortion would be abhorrent (unless it was absolutely necessary due to rape, incest, etc.), but it’s MY choice and not some old white man’s choice! And that’s the way it SHOULD be!

    • charleo1

      Your position on abortion does not necessarily conflict with the
      pro-choice position. Which, as you would probably agree, does not in any way promote abortion. But, advocates policies that make the
      procedure as rare as possible, by making sure a wide variety of programs are readily accessible to all women of child bearing age,
      at all income levels. That serve to first prevent, and then to provide alternatives to those circumstances that most often lead to the abortion. Studies show, in the overwhelming number of cases, the woman herself, finds the procedure very regrettable, if in the end, necessary. However, there is no room for compromising on the
      position, that this very difficult decision, must remain a legal option.
      And that option must ultimately remain a private decision of the

  • stcroixcarp

    By restricting a woman’s right to choose to procreate or not insures that stupid men will father offspring, thus dumbing down the gene pool.

    • daniel bostdorf


      Eugentics is the study of human improvement by genetic means. The first thorough exposition of eugenics was made by Francis Galton, who in Hereditary Genius (1869) proposed that a system of arranged marriages between men of distinction and women of wealth would eventually produce a gifted race. The American Eugenics Society, founded in 1926, supported Galton’s theories. U.S. eugenicists also supported restriction on immigration from nations with “inferior” stock, such as Italy, Greece, and countries of eastern Europe, and argued for the sterilization of insane, retarded, and epileptic citizens. Sterilization laws were passed in more than half the states, and isolated instances of involuntary sterilization continued into the 1970s. The assumptions of eugenicists came under sharp criticism beginning in the 1930s and were discredited after the German Nazis used eugenics to support the extermination of Jews, blacks, and homosexuals.

  • howa4x

    Wake up women of America!! This is what the republican party has in store for all of you. They want you barefoot and pregnant. The GOP is now made up of angry old white men whose idea of morality is for women to close your legs, and confine sex to marriage. The GOP has been working to roll back all the gains of women since the 1960’s and sexual freedom is their top issue. They equate access to contraception as a surge from hell. The GOP want to crate a caliphate of Christianity and turn America into a theocracy. They remain fixated on sexual morality and not on social justice where they oppose human dignity by supporting subsistence wages. Morality to them is having white Christian men making all the decision and telling everyone what is good for them. The Koch bros are typical of this. Older White Christian men trying to use their wealth to force American to accept their brand of faith and what they consider moral. This is more of a threat to thinking women than Al Qaeda ever was, the difference is that the older whites want to put you in a legal Burqua

    • daniel bostdorf

      yep—and check out the video above too…

    • dpaano

      Yeah, they want you barefoot and pregnant, but they don’t want to help you support your family with any so-called “entitlements.” Heaven forbid that the only job you or your husband can get is a low-paid position at Wal-Mart and that you may need food stamps to feed your kids. AND, heaven forbid that you have sex in your marriage and have kids to begin with, especially if you can’t afford them…..because they’ve pretty much banned contraception of any kind also! I can’t believe the GOP can be so stupid and illogical….well, maybe I can!

      • howa4x

        Too bad so many women vote for a return to the middle ages by supporting these thugs

  • daniel bostdorf

    The most powerful part of this article is when Andrea Flynn takes the time to witness and report on exactly what the major focus is: women’s reproductive rights are a GLOBAl and LOCAL human right issue as important as not being held in slavery is a human right.

    Women are being held in the “slavery” of laws that violate human rights of women to have compete control over their bodies.

    From the article:

    “González-Rojas explained that framing women’s rights as human rights has positioned reproductive health as a family and community issue, one that requires multiple voices and solutions to address. Focusing on human rights has empowered women in the valley to organize and mobilize for policy change. They teach communities about immigration, health, and economic policies and encourage them to fight back by protesting, petitioning lawmakers, and – when possible – by voting. Lugo-Martinez said Valley residents have become engaged and excited about human rights and are routinely sharing copies of the landmark 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights at community meetings.”

    It is important, however, to get behind the exact motivations for where “A recent report – Nuestra Voz, Nuestra Salud, Nuestro Texas”–gets its overall global support. It started with Amnesty Internationals My Body, My Rights! campaign.

    From the organization:
    “Everyone has sexual and reproductive rights. Governments have an obligation to ensure that everyone can enjoy these rights freely, without fear, coercion, or discrimination…..You have the right to:

    Make decisions about your own health
    Ask for and receive information about health services
    Decide whether and when to have children
    Choose whether or not to marry
    Access family planning; contraception; legal abortion in cases of rape, incest, or threat to health or life; and maternal health care, among a range of other heath care services
    Live free from rape and other violence

    “Being able to make our own decisions about our bodies and our lives is a basic human right. But for millions worldwide, it’s a right violated daily. That’s why Amnesty International is launching My Body, My Rights, a campaign focused on sexual and reproductive health rights.”….

    This article by Flynn is a perfect example of responsible journalism that is a necessary part of the 4th Estate’s responsibilities to the American people.

    Read more here:


    Powerful youtube video as well here:

  • dpaano

    Thank God that my parents had the common sense to get me OUT of Texas when I was 3 months old! Texas isn’t the great state that it once was, and we can blame Republicans for its demise!! Let’s hope that the people of Texas have seen the light and turn that state into a BLUE state rather than a RED state!!! If they don’t, it’ll just keep getting worse! I used to be so proud to have been born in Texas…, not so much!

  • tdm3624

    Separate abortion from Planned Parenthood clinics and I don’t see how the conservatives could argue effectively against their existence. Without the emotional appeal abortion has for both the left and the right, maybe these people could get the health care they need.

  • rebob14

    Keep your murderous concept of “human rights” out of Texas………continue the destruction of whatever progressive shit hole you’re already in the process of dismantling and leave us alone!

    • daniel bostdorf

      “thank you for your point of view”…….

  • terry b

    Pretty hard to stop America’s version of the Nazi party from closing down such valuable clinics that protect us from the many nuts that seem to permeate the Nazi (republican) party. We beat the original Nazi’s in WWII but are losing the war on women to the American version of that god awful party!!

  • Bryan Blake

    If you want to know that the country will look like if the GOP takes the Senate in 2014 and the presidency in 2016 just come on down to Texas. We have the quintessential government that GOP money can buy. It is no secret that the GOP is desperate to hold onto power for their soon to be white minority as long as they can. So they go for the softest targets first. Unfortunately, that is women, especially women of color whom they fear the most followed by women in general. It should also be noted that our new draconian voting qualification law is especially designed to eliminate the voting rights of women. There is no “War on Women” here in Texas; it should be called the “Extermination of the Human and Political Rights of Women in Texas”!

  • Pamby50

    What makes me just as mad is that there are women who buy into this crap, If the republicans have there way, there will be no more family planning clinics at all in the USA. No abortion for any reason and no contraception. Next thing we know is that the republicans will start putting women in jail for having an abortion. In Texas that won’t bode well cause they like to put people to death for murder. Wake up ladies. We need to mobilize to take back our reproductive rights. We need register and vote these idiots out of office. We need to get in the game. We need to run people who value us.