Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, left, speaks during a meeting with fellow Latina state lawmakers and Vice President Kamala Harris on reproductive rights Friday at the White House in Washington. (White House YouTube)
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WASHINGTON — Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, was among a group of Latina state lawmakers who met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday about reproductive rights.
Lawmakers highlighted the importance of abortion rights as health care and discussed the impact that the reversal of Roe v. Wade took on their constituents.
“In Utah, many women, especially women of color, don’t even have access to basic health services and contraceptives,” said Romero, chair of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. “We know that nationally, people who are already poor or middle class — a lot of these Latinas or Native Americans or black people — when they’re denied an abortion (there’s) a dramatic increase in unpaid bills , bankruptcy and eviction from their homes, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty.”
A judge suspended Utah’s trigger law earlier this summer until a family planning lawsuit against the law is settled. Meanwhile, Romero is sponsoring a bill that would remove criminal penalties for those who provide abortion services or information.
“I am grateful to the vice president for taking a culturally sensitive approach to this complicated issue and reaching out to Latino leaders who represent different ethnic and geographic rural and urban areas,” Romero said.
Harris thanked lawmakers for their work on reproductive rights and stressed that she and President Joe Biden take the issue very seriously.
“Latino leaders across America are on the front lines on this issue,” Harris told lawmakers during a White House town hall meeting. “And in particular, when we talk about the impact on Latinas – we face a number of particular issues that are there for other women as well, but particular issues that include where there may be a language barrier It was an issue in health care access conditions before the Dobbs decision (which overturned Roe v. Wade) and has become a bigger issue now.
Other Latin lawmakers who attended the event stressed that abortion should not be a religious issue.
“I am Catholic, so I understand the religious objections to abortion,” Texas State Rep. Gina Hinojosa said. “But like a lot of Catholics and like a lot of Texans, I also understand that I can live my life of faith, I can practice my faith, and I can live in a country that protects the rights of all Americans to practice their own faith to take decisions about their bodies and their families.”
After the public meeting, the legislators went into private session. Romero was not immediately available to comment on the results of that meeting.