Latinas’ “Cafecito” with the Presidential Candidates

October 24, 2008 posted by Silvia Henriquez, Executive Director, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health 


If Latinas had a “cafecito”* with each presidential candidate, what questions would we ask?


Abortion—This is an issue that is always part of each party’s platform. So while we hear each candidate’s position on a women’s “right to choose,” many women of color have moved beyond just “choice.”  Many women of color reproductive justice organizations have moved to abortion within a human right to health care agenda and aim to place the reproductive health needs of the most disadvantaged women at the center. Therefore, for me, the most pressing question for the candidates is not just will you protect Roe v. Wade, but will you also repeal the Hyde Amendment that prohibits federal Medicaid funding for abortion services?


Immigration—Immigration reform is another highly debated topic. My question on this issue to the candidates is: will you stop the inhumane raids occurring across the country? Raids are tearing families apart and particularly separating nursing mothers from their newborn babies. If we do not stop raids we should at the very least improve the conditions for detained women who are nursing or pregnant. Will candidates improve the lives of detained mothers and their young children?


Health inequities—Because we know that women of color experience poorer outcomes for so many health issues compared to white women, we are looking for solution-oriented strategies. We do not need to simply gather more evidence on health disparities. What we need is that the next administration prioritizes solutions. My question is will you provide funding to establish an Office of Latina Health to specifically look at strategies and solutions that will eliminate health disparities in 10 years?


Civic engagement and participation goes well beyond the voting booth. While voting is certainly a crucial piece of it, so many active community members cannot vote in this upcoming election. But this does not stop many women—mainly immigrant women-from engaging and mobilizing their communities around a Latina, feminist pro-family agenda for reproductive health and justice.


Reproductive justice is the overarching issue for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) and for our activists in nine different states across the country. Under a reproductive justice framework, we have an extensive agenda that will improve the lives of women and their families.


Indeed, while a visual portion of our constituency cannot vote on November 4th, each of these posed questions and the candidates’ answers can have a significant impact on their lives. 


*Spanish term for informal small-group discussion.


Silvia Henriquez oversees management, fundraising, and administration of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.  Prior to her leadership position at NLIRH, Ms. Henriquez worked with various reproductive- rights organizations.  She was the national campus coordinator at the Feminist Majority Foundation, the outreach director at the National Abortion Federation and a policy analyst with the Latino Issues Forum.  Ms. Henriquez has been recognized by the National Women’s Health Network at their 30th Anniversary as one of the 30 activists working on behalf of women’s health.  She is also the recipient of the 2005 Young Professional Award from the American Public Health Association.  She holds a B.A in international affairs and an M.A. in women’s studies from the George Washington University.

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