When it comes to politics, the Latino community has always been the target of misinformation campaigns. After all, we are the largest ethnic demographic in the country and the most influential in elections.
And the criminalization of abortion in the United States is a political issue.
Since the majority-male, white, conservative Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Latinas working in clinics and organizations say misinformation is increasingly intrusive.
As reported by NBC News, misinformation spreaders have found ways to latch on to the national abortion conversation in English and Spanish “to continue disseminating this misinformation at a more rapid pace,” said Susy Chavez of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice.
From misinformation about the criminalization of abortion in the United States to misleading information about the lasting physical harm of abortions, the spread of misinformation has become even more rampant in the month since Roe was overturned, Chavez and others say.
Patients arrive at reproductive health centers fearful of the procedure’s risks, even though science has determined it is one of the safest medical procedures.
Similarly, misinformation campaigns have spread misinformation that abortions cause breast cancer and infertility, as well as the false claim that abortion gatekeeping is illegal nationwide.
Lupe Rodriguez, the executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, said that as legal challenges to states’ proposed abortion bans make their way through the courts, misinformation spreaders are “capitalizing on that confusion to spread misinformation about the legality of the procedure.”
She said the most problematic misinformation affecting Latinos in Texas is the criminalization of abortion. When the state passed a law to ban the procedure, it included a provision that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone else who helped people get abortions and seek thousands of dollars in damages.
“We’ve been hearing about folks being told that they could go to jail or if they help someone, they could go to jail. That, over anything else, really sends a chilling effect to the community,” she said. “It is very, very scary.”
Her organization has received reports from around the state that such misinformation has been spreading, especially among communities with many undocumented Latinos.
Similarly, the campaigns are translated into Spanish and have seen fertile ground on messaging platforms like WhatsApp and social media like Facebook.
In response to the campaigns, organizations such as the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice have taken action and have launched a network of Latinas so that it is the community itself where it becomes a source of reliable and trustworthy information.
For its part, the Florida Access Network has created a peer support group where people who have had abortions can connect and provide information about their experiences.