Reclaiming Spaces: Latinas and Abortion in the U.S.

By Myra Durán

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the historical Roe v Wade ruling in 1973. With this monumental legislative win come several reflections, blogposts, events and panel discussions about how this case has impacted women’s access to abortion care here in the U.S.  There will be lively conversations about the constant attacks to abortion from national and state policymakers, tributes to those pioneers who were instrumental in getting Roe passed, and there may even be talks on what role the younger generation has played in ensuring the right to abortion remains intact. As one of those young women, I have been on many panels, radio shows and events reaffirming the existence of a generation of activists who are not only involved but integrate these issues into their everyday life. We don’t just limit our activism to abortion and birth control – we constantly have to push back on “apathetic” rhetoric that is used to describe us and our political work.

A lot of millennials have to balance our appreciation for the prior work done in the prochoice movement, while simultaneously stand strong in our position within the movement—a task that has proven to be taxing. But with reverence to the work laid down to get us to Roe’s passage, I have noticed time after time a trend within some millennials’ use of language to point out what our mothers and grandmothers have done to fight for Roe.

As a daughter of immigrants, I find this narrative minimizes my experiences as a first generation Latina, whose mother’s and grandmothers’ lives are absent from the ongoing Roe conversations. Homogenizing our experiences into this U.S.-centric framework negates the experiences of immigrant communities. I appreciate all the work that got us to this year’s 40th anniversary, but  I also yearn that  the voices of the mujeres I’m surrounded with: my mom, my sisters, my abuelitas, my tias, my ninas and my cousins were also incorporated. My family’s work, activism, and experiences shouldn’t be overlooked just because they may have not understood nor were present in the U.S. during the long battles before and after Roe.

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