VALERIA GONZALEZ, 18
Valeria Gonzalez lives in Austin, Texas, and works as a Youth Organizer for Youth Rise Texas (YRTX), a nonprofit organization that works with teens whose families have been impacted by incarceration and/or deportation. YRTX teaches teens about the systems of oppression that fuel the incarceration and deportation systems ,and helps them heal from the resulting trauma and harm. Gonzalez was born to a young, Latina single mother in Paramount, California. They did not have a stable home until Gonzalez was 11 years old. They lived in Chicago where gang-related shootings occurred on a weekly basis and police were always around the corners. Later Gonzalez would learn that this was caused by the unequal opportunities given to black and brown people, which then force them to resort to dangerous ways of making money. Gonzalez has made it her purpose to learn more about the role that race and gender play in the opportunities given to people.
Gonzalez believes that writing for the people means writing in an interesting and relatable way about subjects that affect the people. Her writing focuses on immigrants rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and women's health rights because these subjects, in one way or another, affect her and her community. Gonzalez knows that by writing about these topics, they will become much less taboo and, eventually, everyone will be able to speak openly and fix the broken systems that harm minority communities.
Gonzalez is an activist and speaks on issues that affect all kinds of minorities in Austin. She is currently taking a gap year.
Abortion, Legal and Affordable
by Valeria Gonzalez
Recently, a story about an Argentinian girl, referred to by her lawyers as “Lucia,” went viral. Lucia was denied an abortion after she was raped by her grandfather and became pregnant. She gave birth in February to a fetus of 23 weeks, an age that has a small chance of survival. Other cases like this have happened around the world, where women are denied abortions that they need. Lower class women, especially black and brown women, have been forced to keep pregnancies that they can’t or do not want to keep. This has kept poor communities poor and has created mental health related issues. This may seem like an issue that does not affect us, but dozens of Texas Lawmakers have backed an anti-abortion bill called the Heartbeat Bill, which would not allow abortions after the embryo has a heartbeat. An embryo’s heart begins to beat at six weeks into a pregnancy which, with this bill, would leave women with no time to have an abortion if they need one.
Pregnancy before the age of 15 can lead to problems for the newborn like having a higher risk for low birth weight and infant mortality, as well as high blood pressure. Teens should not, in any situation, be forced to keep a pregnancy if they do not wish to. The newborn would have many health problems just by being born to a teen mother. Besides health issues, children born to mothers younger than 15 have lower levels of emotional support and cognitive stimulation and have higher rates of foster care placement. Teen mothers do not always have the necessary skills and support to birth and raise a child, which would leave them with a huge social and emotional disadvantage.
Receiving a wanted abortion is not associated with any mental health harm when women feel that they made the right choice and feel good about it. On the other hand, women who were denied an abortion experience more symptoms of anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression. Therefore, wanted abortions can be beneficial for a woman’s health, but not being able to have a needed abortion can have negative effects on a woman’s health. Abortion is health care and should be treated as such. When health care is denied to women it affects their emotional, physical, and socioeconomic well-being.
When women are denied a needed abortion, they come across serious economic consequences that last for years after birth. Having a child that they can not afford can lead to household poverty which leads to debt. Denying poor women abortions that they need keeps them poor. Women who are forced to go through with a pregnancy they do not want or can not afford have a reduction in full-time employment and an increase in public assistance. These effects persist until they are timed out of those assistance programs. Denying a woman an abortion just creates more cost for the government. After women are timed out of assistance programs, they are left to figure out how to afford taking care of a child they should not have been forced to have.
Women have the right to any kind of reproductive health care they need. Being provided abortions when needed can allow women to stay out of poverty. When women are denied abortions, they are set on a track of health and economic problems and put their families and communities in an endless cycle of poverty and mental health problems. Safe and affordable abortions are a must in order for women to have a significant choice in their emotional health and economic success. This is why the Heartbeat bill has no place in Texas or anywhere in the US.