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Latinas in Texas could be adversely affected if the Supreme Court upholds this abortion law

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If the Supreme Court upholds a restrictive Texas abortion law, a researcher says Latinas will be the most affected.

"Latinas are the majority of women of reproductive age in Texas, 2.5 million women," says Jessica González-Rojas, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.

The 2013 law requires doctors who perform abortions in Texas to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles and that abortion clinics upgrade their facilities to hospital-like standards. González-Rojas says adding those requirements will force many clinics to shut down and calls the law "a de facto ban on abortion for Latinas."

Many Latinas in the Rio Grande Valley close to the Mexican border are immigrants and don't speak English well. Many are undocumented and poor, and live in what are known as colonias, unregulated settlements that don't get municipal services like transportation, running water or electricity.

"The level of poverty is astounding in those communities," says González-Rojas. She predicts that if the Supreme Court upholds the law, the only clinic that provides abortions in the Rio Grande Valley, in McCallen, Texas, will likely shut down. "Essentially, women in the Rio Grande Valley would have to drive 3.5 to four hours north to San Antonio to get the procedure and that means crossing a border checkpoint."

Latinos are thought to be conservative on issues like abortion. But González-Rojas says a recent poll conducted by her institute suggests that Latina voters may personally oppose abortion but they support abortion access. 

González-Rojas says the overwhelming number of women polled were Catholic but despite their faith, they believe abortion should be legal.

"We find women who are saying they would never get it and don't want anyone in their family to get it, but if a woman finds herself in a situation, they would support them," she says. "They don't want politicians making that decision for them."


From PRI's The World ©2015 Public Radio International

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