Hispanic Heritage Month: a Time to Celebrate--and to Break Down Barriers

October 15th will mark the end of National Hispanic Heritage Month, but as we reflect on Latino communities' history of resilience in the face of injustice, we must also recognize the mounting challenges that still lay ahead.

In a city of 3.6 million diverse Latinos, 29 percent of New York City's total population, Latinos have a long and rich history of influential contributions. Planned Parenthood of New York City is proud to celebrate and honor the strength of the diverse Latino communities, and we are also dedicated to helping reduce the threats and barriers our communities are facing.

Planned Parenthood of New York City knows firsthand why it's so critical that women and men in the Latino community have access to comprehensive preventive health care services.

As a result of the existing limited access to health care coverage and less frequent visits to health care providers, Latinos experience higher rates of reproductive cancers, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections than most other groups in the U.S.

Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV. In the U.S., there are more than 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS, including approximately 220,000 Latinos. Latinas are also more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer than women of any other racial or ethnic group.

For many Latinos, Planned Parenthood is their preferred health care provider or the only health care provider they have, and Medicaid and Title X funding is the only way they are able to access Planned Parenthood's high-quality, affordable, and compassionate care.

The political attempt to defund Planned Parenthood would threaten basic preventive health care services for the more than 575,000 Latinos nationwide who rely on Planned Parenthood for care, many of whom already have limited health care access or use Planned Parenthood as their primary health care provider.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would cut many in Latino communities--an emerging political and social power--without the access to care that would ensure a healthy and vibrant generation. But we are not going to let that happen!

All individuals and their families deserve the highest quality of care no matter who they are and where they live--no matter what--and that's what Planned Parenthood provides each and every day. Our doors are open to everyone regardless of their race, income, geography, citizenship status or gender identity.

But, the challenges Latinos face are not confined to U.S. borders. Many families are spread between the U.S. and Latin America. Not only do Latinos in the U.S. deserve reproductive health care, their families and communities abroad do too.

We need a world where health has no borders. That's why Planned Parenthood advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, and is committed to serving all Latinos without judgment, regardless of immigration status, with the highest quality of care.

Globally, Planned Parenthood partners with local organizations, leaders, and medical providers to provide sexual and reproductive health care for thousands of people in Latin America and Africa.

Politicians and individuals attacking Planned Parenthood want to ultimately shut Planned Parenthood down. This is not just a threat to millions of Americans; it is a threat to reproductive health everywhere!

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories and cultures that shape our national character and multi-cultural and multi-ethnic communities in every state.

There is no better way to honor Hispanic communities than by breaking down the social, political and economic barriers that have created such alarming inequalities for Latinos, and it's clear that defunding Planned Parenthood would be a step in the wrong direction.