The OC Latina family reflects on tradition in a post-Ru world

Anna Lopez was 14 when her mother shared some gossip about a woman in their Huntington Beach neighborhood who was rumored to have had an abortion.

“How could they kill that innocent child?” Bertha Valdez asked her daughter. “Catholics don’t do that.”

He’s going to hellLopez remembers being told by her mother. “She’s going to hell.”

Lopez says they never really talked about sex, and Valdez’s denunciation of abortion has been consistent. So Lopez listened and said nothing, even though she already believed that women should have the right to choose what they do with their bodies.

Nearly three decades later, Lopez, 40, says the anniversary is still fresh, a reminder of her family’s old beliefs — and how important it is for her to break with tradition and challenge the stereotype of Latinos as socially conservative. She made a point for educating her two daughters and son about reproductive health and abortion.

Recently, Lopez—along with her 15-year-old daughter Emily—found herself regretting that politicians are making the choice for many American women.

The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade nearly half a century later and subsequent abortion bans in many states pushed reproductive rights to the fore in the political debate ahead of the midterm elections.

Political science and consulting experts predict that the controversy will galvanize Democrats and inspire many young Latinas who are not hard-line Democrats — and may have skipped the vote in the midterm elections — to fill out the ballot.

But for Lopez, abortion rights are also at the heart of the family dynamic that has developed over 50 years. This issue was divisive and united the women in her family and led to some shifts in perspective that she would never have imagined when she was a 14-year-old girl.

Anna Lopez and her daughter Emily, 15, who did not want their faces to appear in the photos, discussed their views on abortion at their home in Orange County.

(Allen J. Cockrox/Los Angeles Times)

Lopez, a registered Democrat who works in a grocery store call center, is among those likely to choose a candidate who aligns with her views on reproductive rights. She said her political outlook stems from her childhood experiences — shadowed by Catholic, conservative and Valdez, her strict and skeptical immigrant mother. Valdez, in turn, was shaped by her childhood and the challenges she faced.

Bertha Valdez was 25 when she left her home in the Huitamo countryside, about 150 miles southwest of Mexico City, in 1980 and arrived at Huntington Beach. She did not speak or read English, but with the help of a friend who rented an apartment and found a job nearby as a housekeeper in a hotel.

Bertha Valdez holding her commemorative necklace cross outside her home

Bertha Valdez, who had a keepsake cross necklace, was conflicted when she learned of the Supreme Court’s ruling. On the one hand, I thought, ‘Yes, thank God! This should not happen. But she also thought about the pain the ruling could cause for sexual assault survivors.

(Gina Verazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Valdez, now 67, was among the first to settle in what would later become Barrio Oak View Latin in the beach town. Two years later, she gave birth to Lopez and then a son. Life with her partners was short-lived, but eventually, some of Valdez’s siblings also settled in the neighbourhood.

As a child, Lopez helped her mother sell homemade and beloved tamales all over Oak View for extra cash. At the time, there wasn’t much to do in the neighborhood miles from the coast and it was quite far from the city’s surfing aesthetic. She was not allowed to go to her friends’ homes, and she was content to play with her brother in front of their apartment complex. On Sundays, she would look forward to tasting the sugar cake her mother would always buy her after attending Mass.

Lopez said her relationship with her mother soured as she entered her teenage years. Valdez avoided any talk about sex or reproductive health. When her elementary school asked permission for her to attend a sex education class, her mother refused to sign the form. Lopez had to get her information from her friends and from her friends who – whichAnd the Just as Valdez once learned about her period from her aunt.

One Sunday afternoon, Lopez, leaning against the armrest of her sofa with the family dog, Nina, crouched next to her, said she was relieved to share her experience and opinions about abortion in the privacy of her own apartment, without her mother. listen. (Her mother lives about five minutes away.) It was a Sunday and her children were at home. Before completing her story, she reminded Hector, her 12-year-old son, to leave the living room and stay in his bedroom. She said he was still too young to listen, and would surely interrupt the questions.

“She didn’t want to sign it,” Lopez continued, shaking her head. I imitated her mother’s questioning, “‘why do you want to know?'” before it lags.

Those beliefs you have. She said it was their beliefs. That’s how Valdez grew up.

Valdez’s parents were corn and watermelon farmers in green Huitamo. There was no time – or interest – in explaining the age of puberty to their fourteen children. She was 14 years old and was on her way to her uncle’s house when her period first came. She panicked, and imagined the worst.

“Neither my mom nor dad talked to me about it,” Valdez explained, occasionally stopping her story to welcome guests at a party she organized in Oak View to bid farewell to their local priest. Hanging from her neck is a worn shoulder piece that shows the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “Talking about this was shameful.”

Olga Mejia, an associate professor of counseling at California State Fullerton who specializes in working with families of Hispanic immigrants, said the priority for parents in rural Mexico is food at the table and a place to live. While the United States presents its own set of challenges, she said, it creates space for most immigrants to think beyond those priorities and discuss “taboo issues” such as sex, abortion and mental health.

But some immigrants and their families live in an “in-between space”, an idea Neither here nor thereNeither here nor there, said Mejia, who was born in Baja California and moved to the United States at nine.

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Persuasive storytelling presentation from the Los Angeles Times.

Part of the problem, Mejia added, is that some families feel caught between two cultures that they may not even realize. “It just starts to blend in, not always in a graceful way.”

Valdez spoke proudly of her trip to the United States and her ability to figure things out on her own. But her voice became soft, almost inaudible by the loud music from a church party, as she contemplated the moments when pregnancy, violence, and death intersected her life.

Her mother died during childbirth, and the baby also died. She said a doctor warned her mother about more pregnancies, but her father ignored the advice. God remembers him saying: He will give the spouses many children.

“They made their own decisions and everyone respected their decisions as human beings and partners,” Valdez said. “We had no point in sharing our opinions because it was theirs.”

Years later, during a short stint working in Mexico City before heading north, she came across a stranger. When she got off the bus at her usual stop, a man grabbed her by the neck and pushed his hand under her head. Decades passed before she told Lopez about the confrontation.

When she was a young mother living in Oak View, acquaintances told her that she should abort her youngest child due to the heavy burden of being a single working parent. She ignored their comments and ignored questions about her relationships; She told them that her children were blessings.

However, when she learned of the Supreme Court ruling through her diocese, she was conflicted. On the one hand, I thought, ‘Yes, thank God! This should not happen. But she quickly added, “I didn’t jump for joy,” punching her fists in the air in mock celebration—for the pain that sexual assault survivors carrying their pregnancies will feel to term, the baby will be a living reminder to them. shock.

Valdez’s exact opinion is not rare. The majority of Americans’ opinions do not readily align with religion or political affiliation. A 2022 Pew Research Center survey on abortion found that 71% of US adults “either say it should be mostly legal, mostly illegal, or say there are exceptions for their universal support or opposition to legal abortion.”

When asked how she reconciles her Catholic faith with support for abortion in some circumstances, Valdez said she doesn’t think so, though she doesn’t plan to share her opinion with her church. After all, she said, she hopes to soon join her friends Corps of Mary, a local branch of Catholics that promotes praying the rosary, visiting prisoners and praying in front of clinics that provide abortions.

“This paradox is what is the glue that will keep a polarized country together,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican Party adviser, a co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project that advocates abortion rights.

“It’s a Mexican Catholic to say, ‘I know this is wrong. This is not what we should do. “When that happens, we should not only accept it, but we should seek forgiveness and try to make up for it,” said Madrid, who is a Mexican-American.

Valdez’s granddaughter, Emily, is shifting family dynamics even further to the left, adding mental health to her priority list.

Later in the afternoon, Lopez called her daughter to join her on the sofa. The 15-year-old spoke realistically about the difference between her mother and grandmother, adding that she learned what to avoid discussing when visiting her grandmother: gender, race and religion.

Emily said Valdez immigrated to the United States at a young age, without having time to enjoy her youth in a new place because she was focused on survival. She added that her grandmother is now older and got stuck in her way.

Emily is proud of her mother for “changing the cycle” in her multigenerational family.

“Low-down, it’s kind of like the only person I talk to because my dad doesn’t really care about that,” Emily said.

“It’s tougher, isn’t it?” Lopez intervened in a rare moment of interruption.

Emily, at first, said she found it embarrassing when her mom talked about periods, relationships, and sex. Now, some of her friends look to her mother for advice or come up with hypothetical scenarios that they might be too shy to talk about with others.

The soon-to-be sophomore says she is focusing on coaching for volleyball and plans to enroll in a business major in college. Lopez reminded her of her dream of becoming the first female president.

“In third grade,” Emily said as she corrected her mother. She said she “looked” at the process and concluded that it was “tiring” and “frightening” to be in such a high-level position. Her interest in politics has since waned because it has become “too messy,” with abortion policies wrought by frustration.

“People might say because we’re younger we don’t know what to think,” Emily said. But the hadith indicates otherwise. Seated beside her mother, Emily explains how a woman’s income, trauma and housing situation can affect her ability to be a mother. “They say, ‘Put the baby into a foster home,’ but our foster care is not good…I think abortions are OK because you never know the situation and what people are going through.”

And if the country mends its course and is old enough to become president, Emily said she would “still be up to it.”

Hector found his way back to the living room and played nearby, listening.

Lopez was silent and smilingly listened as her daughter spoke.

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