Latinas Tipped the Scale

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the election night party at McCormick Place, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicag
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the election night party at McCormick Place, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Now that the numbers have been crunched and the final balloon has dropped, it's clear that the Latino community made history in elections across the country and turned out to vote. What's more is that it appears to have been the Latina vote that tipped the scales, when we joined with other American women and mobilized to make sure that candidates who are supportive of women's health made it to state capitols, D.C. and the White House.

The numbers speak for themselves. Three out of every four Hispanic women voted for Obama. Of course, issues such as the economy, job creation and immigration played an important role in our participation, but it's undeniable that the protection of the Affordable Care Act, reproductive health and rights and accessibility to health care services were also key. In the same manner, we rejected the extremist and dangerous rhetoric from politicians like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, whose offensive comments cost them the elections and demonstrated a lack of respect toward women and their well-being, and a dangerous perspective on policy.

In the race for the presidency, the decision between Mitt Romney and President Obama was an easy one. Romney promised to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, which plays such an important role in providing health care services at affordable prices for our communities, and he proudly vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act without having an inkling of a plan to take its place.

Our work is not over. It's estimated that every month another 50,000 Latinos become eligible to vote, which is why educating our families, children and friends on the issues that are vital to our health must continue. We also saw firsthand how important it is to continue to support organizations that are truly invested in and aware of our needs and will use their resources to protect them, organizations like Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood health centers have always been a part of the Latino community and saw approximately 630,000 Latinos last year alone. Many times, these health centers provide the only option for health care, including cervical cancer screenings, clinical breast exams, birth control and family planning and other essential health care services. Having this health care provided at an affordable price not only helps improve the health of women and our communities but also provides the economic relief that in today's economy so many families need.

Latinas have always been a powerful force, but the 2012 elections demonstrated to the rest of the country our capacity to alter the course of an election and American history. The message remains clear: Latinas are watching, and we do vote.