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Abortion-rights advocate worries about the ripple effects of Arizona's near-total ban

Advocates around the region are watching the Arizona Legislature closely this week as efforts to repeal the 1864 near-total abortion ban resume.

Maria-Teresa Liebermann-Parraga is particularly concerned about the ripple effects a law like this could have on neighboring states — and on the large population of Latina women in them. 

Liebermann-Parraga is with the nonprofit advocacy group the Women’s Equality Center. She spoke with The Show from her home state of Nevada about the disproportionate effect she fears this law would have on Latinas — and the region.


MARIA-THERESA LIEBERMANN-PARRAGA: It is very concerning at large for everyone in Arizona. But disproportionately Latinas are going to be affected because like any other disproportionately affected communities, communities of color, Indigenous communities, they are the ones that have an even more difficult time accessing any kinds of health care, but especially access to abortion and reproductive health care. And so if this law does not get some kind of repeal through the efforts that are currently being taken place, we are going to see them have an even harder time go to other places, those safe haven states across the Southwest. Because it takes money, it takes access to those places. It takes knowledge and so it is already hard enough for them. And so now we're just making it even, even harder.

LAUREN GILGER: It sounds like a lot of this has to do with, with challenges that this particular population faces in accessing healthcare in general, maybe maternal health care in particular.

LIEBERMANN-PARRAGA: Yes. And this can, you know, open up Pandora's box into the discussion of, you know, how hard it is. You know, even when you do want to become a mother, maternal mortality in when you go down to the segments of, you know, Black women and Hispanic women and, you know, Indigenous women, the numbers get worse. And the fact that now we're going to make it illegal. And in the Southwest, even in states where it is legal, I'm calling from Nevada, a place where it is legal, it is safe, it is accessible. But that access does come with an asterisk because it is a place where we have only a few clinics.

And so if Arizona is going to be a state where you all are going to have no access, you know, that is going to put a strain in our access, making it even harder for Latinos in both of our states. So that is going to put a strain in the rest of the region, which has a huge Latino population. And so that is going to have a domino effect. That is pretty scary.

GILGER: That's really interesting. So there are kind of direct ripple effects. I want to talk about providers, right, because there are concerns here that the fact that this law criminalizes providers that they might leave the state and that obviously creates more barriers to care, less access for people, especially poor people, people in rural communities. Have you seen that happen in other states with similarly restrictive laws?

LIEBERMANN-PARRAGA: Yeah, I mean, you know, we just have to look at what happened, what has been happening and you know, all of these other, other states like Alabama, where providers are still and are still very afraid. And, and even, you know, trauma doctors all across the country that have to deal with, you know, women coming in with miscarriages because of the limbo that we are in, do not know how to deal with a miscarriage.

GILGER: So do you anticipate here and have you seen maybe in other states with restrictive laws on abortion now, that Latino women, other women in marginalized communities end up not getting maternal care, prenatal care, things like that because there's just fewer people to go to?

LIEBERMANN-PARRAGA: Yeah, they really do end up suffering. And if there is no access, you know, we for a long time have been thinking in the world of advocacy and direct services. We have been thinking, you know, the United States will never go back to how things used to be. But in many communities where you have no information, there is this big question of, how desperate will people that have no access be to end a pregnancy? And so kind of the challenge now is getting information that you know, you you can travel to a place. There are organizations that are helping get access and information to women and families to understand that you can go to a neighboring state, that there are places out there that will help you get access to Planned Parenthood, to planning services. And that is why especially here in Nevada, where we have been struggling for access for a long time, that discussion of access needs to be increased so that we can help continue to help our neighbors in Arizona.

GILGER: So I know your organization works around the world in Latin America and Mexico as well. Are you anticipating ripple effects from laws like these across the border?

LIEBERMANN-PARRAGA: Yes. Yes. We, we have been noticing that because, you know, in, in Mexico, it's gone the other way for the longest time. I'm from Mexico and I grew up, you know, you know, we migrated here when I was very young and it used to be the other way. It used to be the inverse. Mexico, a very Catholic country, very anti-abortion, and the U.S., the inverse. And now it's the other way around.

And there has been this sort of plan-ification for or border clinics across Mexico of like Texas and Arizona and other, you know, regions of maybe we're gonna see an influx of women from the United States coming in to have these services. You know, Mexico has for many years seen sort of medical tourism already because of our health-care industry being so unaccessible for many other reasons, you know, rising cost of health care, rising cost of prescriptions, etc. And so now, you know, Mexico is sort of thinking this is gonna just be one of those other things that we may need to be prepared for.

KJZZ’s The Show transcripts are created on deadline. This text may not be in its final form. The authoritative record of KJZZ’s programming is the audio record.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.