Dangerous Distortions: Anti-Abortion Fascists and Third World Allies

latino abortion On a recent Los Angeles talk radio show Louisiana state legislator John LaBruzzo lamented the “massacre” of millions of “baby women” by abortion.  In this fascist’s warped mind abortion infringes on the civil rights of fetuses.  LaBruzzo is the author of a bill that would abolish abortion on the grounds that denying fetuses civil rights is akin to the violent denial of black civil rights under slavery.  According to male anti-abortion fascists like LaBruzzo, poor single women get abortions because they are forced to by predatory deadbeat dad boyfriends in training or by fathers who have committed incest.  Hence, overturning Roe vs. Wade is consistent with gender equity and social justice.

As the national hijacking of women’s rights continues, the Right has become more and more skillful at manipulating pro-death anti-choice messages designed to make women believe that their interests are being served by powerful white conservative foundations and their “third world” allies.  In Los Angeles, conservative Latino groups are now targeting Latino communities with a new wave of anti-abortion billboards similar to those aimed at African American women. The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles is the architect of this latest assault on reproductive justice for women of color.  As with the abortion-as-black-genocide billboards unleashed by the far right Radiance Foundation, the Latino billboards evoke reductive hyper-religious narratives of sinning promiscuous bad women and “breeder” good women.

The billboards claim that “the most dangerous place” for a Latino child is in the womb.  Yet the reality of Latina fertility rates—three children are the national average for Latinas in their childbearing years—would seem to belie the need for this campaign.  But of course reality in fascist propaganda is an oxymoron.  Crafted as they are at the height of the recession, the economic subtext of these moral panic narratives must be exposed.  The subtext of the campaign is that any form of access to abortion threatens the stability of patriarchal Latino families.  Like black women, Latinas’ bodies are territory to be manipulated, controlled, and strictly policed vis-à-vis the regime of authentic Latino gender identities based on Catholic piety and female submission. As the most underrepresented and lowest paid group in the American economy, Latinas are especially vulnerable to socio-cultural narratives mandating that they stay barefoot, pregnant, and underemployed.

In the Latino community, the assault on women’s right to self-determination is also being spearheaded by former Latin American telenovela stars ready to lend their “expert” opinions on what Latinas in the US should and should not do with their bodies. The most vociferous of these is former boy band member and telenovela heartthrob Eduardo Verastegui. In 2008, Verastegui vied for the heart of the Religious Right with media appearances encouraging Spanish speaking Latino voters to vote yes on Proposition 8, California’s anti-same sex marriage initiative. He has returned to the spotlight as a founding member of Manto de Guadalupe, a nonprofit focused on “defending life from conception to natural death.”

On June 12th, Manto de Guadalupe sponsored a fundraising event in support of the development of the largest “pro-life” women’s clinic in the United States. This facility is slated to be built in South Los Angeles, which has one of the highest poverty rates in L.A. County.  At the event, legendary Mexican telenovela star Veronica Castro introduced Texas governor and rumored presidential hopeful Rick Perry.  Just a few days before the fundraiser, Perry introduced SB 9—sweeping legislation which would ban “sanctuary cities” or non-existent safe havens for undocumented immigrants—into the Texas Senate.  SB 9 would further criminalize Texas Latinos by allowing law enforcement to inquire about the immigration status of those arrested or legally detained. Still, at the fundraiser, the predominantly Spanish-speaking immigrant crowd cheered wildly for Perry.

The connection between the right’s anti-immigrant and anti-choice agenda is no coincidence.  Criminalizing choice and undocumented immigrants is part of a larger scheme in which big government eliminates the rights of the underclass and expands “social welfare” for corporations, the wealthy, and the military industrial complex.  Thus, right-wing propaganda in black and brown communities must be met head on.  Access to safe and legal safe abortions is not only paramount to women’s health but to economic and social justice.  Pro-choice politicians like President Obama who waffle on the morality and necessity of abortion (talking only of the need to “reduce” the number of abortions), further distort the connection between unrestricted access to abortion and human rights.

Indeed, the Left’s marginal response to far right anti-abortion fascism has enabled a climate in which Planned Parenthood has now been defunded in three states.  If the war on safe and legal access to abortion does not shift to a national movement centered on how family planning and abortion are a fundamental human right, then the lives of black and brown women will continue to be expendable.  And if the right wing of all hues continues to be allowed to define the terms of human rights and “social justice” women of color will be on the frontlines reliving the horror of the back alley.

Sikivu Hutchinson and Diane Arellano

Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars. Diane Arellano is a photo documentarian and youth advocacy educator based in Los Angeles. Her work examines sociocultural instability and flexibility, the intersections of marginalized communities, race, class, and gender roles. Sikivu and Diane run the Women’s Leadership Project, a South L.A.-based feminist mentoring program.

Published by the LA Progressive on June 18, 2011
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About Sikivu Hutchinson

Sikivu Hutchinson, Ph.D. is the author of "Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles," "Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, the Values Wars and the forthcoming Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels," and the recently released book "Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels."

Comments

  1. Rev. John j. Raphael speaks of the 30 millions abortion murders of black children, but as most in this country plays fast and loose with CDC figures regarding potential human beings and shows his insensitivity by not even acknowledging the 15% unemployment rate in the African American community, that 1-6 have a difficult time gathering sufficient nutrition, or that 1-5 people live in poverty and even worse, but these people are simply pro-birth, not pro-life as they run from real commitment to living. It would be laughable it it weren’t so sad that in countries where abortion is forbidden, abortion rates are highest in the world and so are the number of orphaned children who lose their mothers to illegal abortion. Countries with legalized abortion also have the lowest rates, with the sole exception of the United States and especially in the South which in many ways seems like a separate country with Hugh poverty rates, poor health, low incomes, high infant mortality rates, lowest education rates, etc. In the final analysis, one point desperately needs addressing and that is that of those receiving abortions in the US, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 70% are Christian. Seems like the choir isn’t listening.

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