December 8 marks Latina Equal Pay Day. This means it takes Latinas an additional 11 months to earn what white, non-Hispanic men earned at the end of last year. For every dollar they make, we only earn 54 cents.
Equal pay isn’t just about our paychecks, it’s about our economic security. And our ability to control our economic security is inextricably linked to our ability to decide whether and when to become a parent.
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and ended our constitutional right to abortion, we knew Latinas would pay the price. A new report we co-authored found that the impact of this decision has fallen hardest on Latinas. Nearly 6.5 million Latinas —42 percent of all Latinas ages 15 to 49— live in states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion, and nearly three million Latinas living in states where abortion is restricted or banned face economic insecurity.
In our work at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, we see firsthand the impact these bans have on working Latinas and their families. When people can make decisions about whether and when to become a parent, they have more control over their economic security. And when someone is denied an abortion, they are more likely to be pushed deeper into poverty. That’s why these abortion bans are an attack on economic justice.
Even before the Dobbs decision, out-of-touch politicians pursuing their own agendas have been working for decades to make abortions difficult to get, forcing many people to travel long distances for care, wait days between appointments, and pay out-of-pocket for care without insurance coverage due to the Hyde Amendment. The cost of ending a pregnancy can mean having to choose between paying for rent or paying for abortion care. Having to raise funds for an abortion delays access to care, which then becomes more expensive and difficult to obtain.
Plus, many Latinas may work multiple jobs that provide no sick days or insurance coverage and live in communities where resources are scarce. They often don’t have the time or money to travel to a different state to access abortion care.
At Latina Institute, we believe everyone should have access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, including abortion care, and that no one should be denied care because of their income, age, race, disability, immigration status, or where they live. We know that when people can make decisions that are best for their lives, families thrive, and we build communities where each of us can participate with dignity and equality.
According to the National Partnership for Women & Families, if we were paid a fair and equal wage, we would make more than $26,400 additional dollars a year. That amounts to 38 months of food, 33 more months of childcare, and two years of rent. Yet, due to systemic racism and xenophobia, that money is kept from us and our families. To add insult to injury, politicians want to take away our freedom to control our own bodies and force us further into economic hardship by denying us access to abortion.
We know that the majority of people in this country, including Latinos, support access to abortion care and do not want extreme politicians to ban abortion or interfere with their personal health care decisions. These are deeply personal decisions that affect our lives, our families, and our economic security. Our fight for equal pay is also a fight for a world in which everyone is able to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.
We know we have a long way to go, but we believe it’s possible.
This is our vision, and why my team and I are so committed to the work we do every day at Latina Institute. We hope you will join us in making it a reality.
To learn more about our work and get involved, visit LatinaInstitute.org.
Lupe M. Rodríguez is the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, which fights for equal access to reproductive health for Latino communities. Twitter: @lupemrodriguez