When Aracely Rodriguez went to Washington D.C. for a conference on health care, she had no idea that 24 hours later she would be tapped by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to speak at a national press conference on health care reform. Rodriguez, who serves as Binational Affairs/Latino Engagement Manager at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, attended a workshop and participated in rigorous discussion about the impact of health care reform on the Latino community. Impressed with her passion and eloquence, Pelosi asked Rodriguez to share her thoughts with the American public the following day.
“I was honored to be a voice for millions of Latinos across the United States,” said Rodriguez. She spoke to nearly 100 national media outlets, including follow-up interviews in Spanish with Telemundo, Univision and La Opinion, among others. “When I went to the podium and heard thousands of clicks of cameras from print media and saw all of those TV cameras and microphones, it was a little intimidating,” said the 27-year-old Rodriguez. “But I realized that I had an amazing opportunity to speak on behalf of women and men, particularly people of color, whose lives could be saved by greater access to health care. In many ways, this was one of the most important days of my life.”
Rodriguez thanked President Obama for health care reform, citing that it will provide insurance for 14 million more women in the United States. She explained that 39% of Latinas in the United States are uninsured, which is more than any other racial or ethnic group. Rodriguez stressed that the Affordable Care Act would help women gain access to preventive health services like mammograms and life-saving cancer screenings. Additionally, she said that more than 50% of Latinas have experienced a time in their lives when they were unable to afford birth control. She told the audience that “being a woman is not a pre-existing condition.”
“As a woman and a Latina, I felt privileged to speak on behalf of my community,” said Rodriguez. “I am grateful to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and to Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest for giving me the opportunity to be a voice for social justice.”