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Lina Hidalgo and Rochelle Garza
Episode two of Latinas from Coast to Coast, covering abortion rights in Texas, premiered Tuesday. Photos: Getty Images and Campaign for Rochelle Garza.

Latinas from Coast to Coast launches second panel discussion on abortion in Texas

Episode two featuring Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Texas AG candidate Rochelle Garza, & NARAL President Mini Timmaraju premiered Tuesday.

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Episode two of the newly-launched Latinas from Coast to Coast panel discussion from Latino Victory and Fierce by Mitú premiered on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

The newest release was focused on the state of abortion in the state of Texas post Roe v. Wade, and was hosted by activist and former President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards. She was joined by three Texas leaders and activists — Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Candidate for Texas Attorney General Rochelle M. Garza, and President of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, Mini Timmaraju. 

Timmaraju kicked off the discussion with a look back at June 24, 2022, the day the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the effect it had on women’s reproductive freedom across the country, especially in Texas. 

“In the immediate aftermath, probing overturned clinics in several states, but particularly in Texas, were forced to stop providing abortion care. Appointments were canceled, people across the country suddenly lost a fundamental freedom that we've relied on for nearly 50 years,” she said.

Timmaraju went on to say that the reality of a world without legal abortion had already been creeping up on the Lone Star State. Where it’s at now is “beyond the point of crisis,” especially for Latinas.

“We are now in the fight for our lives,” she said. “We know that this assault on our freedom is most harmful to people who are already marginalized, immigrants, people like us, who are most affected, women of color.”

A new analysis cited by Timmaraju from the National Partnership for Women & Families found that state abortion bans can harm nearly 15 million women of color. Latinos make up the largest group of women who will be harmed, at 6.5 million. 

“What's happening in Texas is outrageous. It breaks my heart for many reasons,” she said.

When it came time for Garza to speak, she talked about her origins in a Latino-heavy part of the state and how despite their Catholic faith, Latinos tend to support the procedure of abortion. 

“There is this myth that Latinos are very conservative and that abortion does not go well over in our communities. That's not been my experience. I grew up in a pro choice Catholic household,” said Garza. 

In another example supporting her point about Latinos and abortion, Garza cited the case of Edinburg, Texas. Last year, the majority Latino city in the Rio Grande attempted to put in place ordinances that resembled a six-week abortion ban with support for those who turned in abortion seekers.

“Activists and individuals from the City of Edinburgh, and across South Texas came together and they defeated those ordinances,” said Garza. “That's the kind of power I am seeing in this state. It is coming from the most unexpected places. There's so much hope there. Latino voters are a huge voting bloc in the state of Texas. Representation does matter.” 

The discussion concluded with Judge Hidalgo, who touched on her own experiences in the aftermath of the Roe v. Wade overturn, but looked towards a future where people will be much more politically engaged.   

After the overturn, Hidalgo said she went to rally in downtown Houston featuring thousands of people on a brutally hot day. Despite the conditions, there was unity.

“There were people from all walks of life. They were so focused, and of course were angry. But they were past that, and they were at the action stage,” Hidalgo said.

That’s the attitude she thinks is being carried to this day and potentially to the voting booths this November. It’s why, she said, many states like Texas are trying to pass voter suppression laws. 

“If people didn't think that we could change things, they wouldn't be coming after us in the way that they are. Many of the voter suppression laws that passed in Texas were tailor made to revoke the reforms we had implemented in Harris County. There have been all kinds of attacks, because they see that we're being effective,” said Hidalgo. 

This decision, while tragic, the silver lining is it moved people out of complacency.”

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