Reproductive Justice and Immigrants’ Rights: Centering Bodily Autonomy and Reproductive Health – Mariposa Fund

Italia Aranda Gonzalez, representing the Mariposa Fund based in New Mexico, generously presented to MSFC membership about the intersection of reproductive justice and immigrant rights.  Italia Aranda Gonzalez is a DACA recipient and has worked tenaciously as a community organizer for over ten years addressing the various health disparities impacting undocumented communities across the country. Italia currently specializes as a pregnancy options counselor and abortion doula at a local reproductive health clinic. The Mariposa Fund provides financial support to pregnant people seeking abortion care who do not have access to other funding. Although New Mexico is one of the fifteen states that allows Medicaid recipients to use their coverage for abortion care, not all people living in New Mexico can access Medicaid. For example, undocumented immigrants cannot, but neither can legal non-citizens during a 5-year waiting period or Native Americans using the Indian Health Services (IHS) due to the Hyde amendment’s ban on federal funds for abortion services. The Mariposa Fund also provides funds for family planning services, giving more than $10,000 in long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). 

Italia taught us about how Immigrant justice is deeply rooted in racial justice, “fighting for equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment, impacts and outcomes” (Uprooting Racism). Undocumented immigrants have the right to live in peace, without fear of deportation. People have a right to migrate and deserve to seek better opportunities. Often, people are migrating because they are being displaced. All people have the right to choose if and when they parent and to raise their children in safe and healthy environments. Here is the crux of the intersection between immigrant rights and reproductive justice. 

There are many reasons why undocumented immigrants may eschew seeking medical care. First, the medical system has a long history and continued medical abuse and coercion, resulting in forced sterilization and other trauma. Additionally, women and trans and gender non-conforming (GNC) peoples face heightened scrutiny of decisions they make for themselves, and this scrutiny is compounded for people of color. 

Italia illustrated several areas within reproductive health and rights that need to be tackled to better align with reproductive justice.

Within the reproductive health framework (which focuses on service provision):

  1. Immigrants – especially undocumented women, are less likely to receive SRH services, including screenings for breast and cervical cancer, STI testing, family planning services
  2. GNC people face higher discrimination and higher rates of negative healthcare experiences
  3. Less access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care
  4. Less likely to report hostile work environments or unsafe working conditions

Within the reproductive rights framework (which focuses on the legal system):

  1. A lack of comprehensive laws that detail the rights of all individuals to access reproductive health services
  2. Politics and existing regulations are based on gendered, sexualized, and radicalized acts of dominance that occur everywhere, every day
  3. Reproductive rights need to address more than abortion. We need rights that protect and expand access to health education, family planning, safe and healthy living and work environments, right to be free from torture and violence

How can you help? Italia has some great suggestions!

  • Learn about the policies in your state that support or prevent undocumented people from accessing care
  • What policies are in place at your clinical sites and future practices to support people who can’t afford care?
  • What policies are in place that would prevent someone from accessing care? Interpreters, language on consents forms, acceptance of federal IDs only?
  • Is your clinical site a safe space for undocumented people? How would undocumented people know it is a safe space?
  • Connect with local, state, and national organizations who are leading this work to access resources, training, and support: