Editor’s Note: This story has mentions of abortion and sexual assault that may be triggering for some readers. 

The passing of Texas’ heartbeat bill, in which women are banned from undergoing an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, has not only affected all women within the state but also Latinx students at the University of Nevada, Reno.

In May of 2021, Texas lawmakers passed the heartbeat bill which prohibits women and anyone who helps them from giving or receiving an abortion.

Cambrea Sosa, a biochemistry major at UNR, says the Texas abortion bill going into affect is terrifying for her as a Latina woman. 

“Even though it’s so far away people in our state can see ‘Oh well this is happening somewhere else let’s rally for it,’ and it can happen here and affect us too,” Sosa said. 

Sosa said she recognizes the discourse surrounding abortion within the Latinx community, and wished there was support readily available.

“I know there’s a lot of stigma around it, even as a Latina, because of like religion and [other] stuff,” She said. “So when I see something like that happening in Texas where there’s a lot of Hispanic women, I feel like someone needs to get their back and support them.”

Photo of a past Planned Parenthood rally used for promoting their week of advocacy in April of 2021

Photo of a past Planned Parenthood rally used to promote their virtual week of advocacy in April of 2021.
Photo provided with permission by Daela Gibson found on Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Facebook page.

Although the law was passed in May, it didn’t go into effect until Wednesday Sept. 1. The bill not only criminalizes abortions, but goes as far as criminalizing anyone who takes a part in the process.  

Section 171.208 of the Texas abortion bill states any Texas civilian may bring civil action against any person who helps perform the abortion and any person who aids and abets in the inducement of the procedure (including paying for it). 

“With this new law, if I even tried to bring them here to Reno or help them I could put them and myself at risk for deportation,” said a university student. The Nevada Sagebrush will refer to this student as Jill for concerns around her and her family’s safety. 

Jill said she feels scared for the women in Texas and about how her own family is being affected. 

As far as help and support goes for these women, the law isolates them and renders it almost impossible for the Latinx population to even want to receive proper reproductive healthcare. 

Latinos when faced with healthcare problems, often find themselves unable to receive proper services and treatment because of underlying social conditions they find themselves in. This population has the highest uninsured rate and often don’t have a regular provider that they can speak to, according to a report from Planned Parenthood. 

This population “face[s] greater obstacles to obtaining, and benefiting from, sexual and reproductive health services than non-Latino white Americans. As a result, Latinos experience higher rates of reproductive cancers, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections than most other groups of people in the U.S, ” read the report. 

“I’m not from Texas, I was born here,” Jill said. “However, I know that some of my aunts and even cousins visit Planned Parenthood in Texas because it’s the only place that’ll give them the necessary exams and treatments that they can afford.”

Daela Gibson, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood, said 25 percent of the organization’s clients identify themselves as Latinx, which is a comparable number to the Latinx population of Reno. 

When it comes to servicing this community, Gibson stated one of their challenges is fighting the stigma which revolves around their offices.

“The idea that in visiting our office, you have already messed up, so to speak,” she said. “The truth is, quite the opposite, most people who come in, are working on being safe and responsible for themselves and their partners are being proactive. Thinking that people are being irresponsible, when in fact coming in, is actually very responsible.”

Given the already difficult process of finding proper healthcare within the Latinx community, banning a woman from possibly receiving life-saving care in the form of an abortion is what makes the law so shocking to Latinx women on campus. 

“I just don’t think what’s happening in Texas is fair,” said Jill. “I have all of these different resources to take care of myself, a Planned Parenthood not that far away, yet my family can’t ever have the possibility of making a decision for themselves.”

Melanie Mendez can be reached at melaniemendez@sagebrush.unr.edu and through Twitter at @MAizmeth.