[UPDATED: Billboards Removed] Anti-Choice Billboards Pop Up in California, Call a Latina's Womb 'Dangerous'

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UPDATE, JUNE 21, 3:57 P.M.:  If you haven't seen the anti-choice billboards in Los Angeles that proclaim, "The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb," you missed your chance--at least for now.

All three billboards, which were paid for by The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles and owned by CBS Outdoor, had been either taken down or covered up by Friday, says Gabriela Valle, senior director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), the group that spearheaded the efforts to get the billboards removed.

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JuliRED
Staffers from the California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and other like-minded groups celebrate underneath one of the recently removed billboards.
As soon as CLRJ found out about the billboards, which Valle called "politically driven" and "racist," it launched an effort to get rid of them. 

First, the group rallied support from similar-minded organizations, Valle says, and then it called CBS Outdoor. "We started with a very basic question: How is it that such a racist ad could get put up?" Valle says. 

CBS Outdoor explained to CLRJ that it has a process that vets potentially controversial ads, Valle says, but, she added, she didn't want to speak for them.

CBS Outdoor didn't return calls to explain said process. 

Valle spoke highly of CBS Outdoor, however, calling it "absolutely respectful" and crediting it for engaging in a conversation and ultimately removing the billboards. 

You might remember some past Navel Gazing posts about CBS Outdoor's billboards: there was the one funded by local atheists, which did go up, and the one designed by an Anaheim-based church, which didn't, earning the company cries of hypocrisy from a local pastor.

Alfonso Aguilar, the executive director of the D.C.-based group behind the billboards, isn't too ticked about the removal, either, although he did call it "an attack on our freedom-of-expression rights." 

Valle dismissed Aguilar's Constitution-infringement claim. "We don't think free speech and hate speech are equivalent," she says, "and these are forms of hate speech." 

Although the billboards, which were slated to be up for a month, came down early, Aguilar still deems them a success. The goal was to make a statement, Aguilar says, and to "educate the Latino community about the staggering abortion statistics in our community."

The ads' short lifespan might even be a blessing, Aguilar says, citing the added attention the group has garnered. "It was a win-win. If the ads were there for four weeks, or if they were pulled down, it was a win. The blogsphere is booming."

ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 14, 2011, 4:56 P.M.: Where's the most dangerous place for a Latino/a to be?

Well, according to a throng of recently unveiled billboards in Los Angeles, it's inside mom's womb. 

Gabriela Valle, senior director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, says the billboards, which started showing up a few days ago, are the result of some "anti-choice folks on the right." One of the bigger billboards is located on the corner of Figueroa Street and  Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, she says.

The billboards read: "The most dangerous place for a Latino is in the womb." (Valle says she thinks it's interesting the billboard uses only the male "Latino," when the Spanish language differentiates gender with an "a" or "o.") 

The billboards share the "same vein" as another recent anti-choice campaign that targeted African-American women, Valle says.

"This is the second rolling out of the same message. We're taking a strong stance against these ads," she says. "They're completely racist. An attack to one community is an attack to all." 

To Valle, the billboards are a "very politically driven" attempt to "cause a wedge in Latino communities."

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unidosporlavida.org.mx
​So, who's behind it?

At the bottom of the billboards is a website: unidosporlavida.org.mx. The group, which lists an office in Mexico City on its website, didn't respond to an emailed interview request.

"This organization is out of Mexico. That's another layer that's touchy," Valle says. "The fact that it's hiding behind a Latino-led organization doesn't make the message any less racist." 

Unidos Por La Vida are the same folks who put on the pro-life event at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena on June 12.  The event touted headliners including Texas Governor Rick Perry and pro-life activist Lila Rose. The group is also affiliated with the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.

A translated statement from its website claims "22 percent of all abortions in the United States each year happen among Latina women, and it's 2.7 times more likely that they will have an abortion than a white, non-Hispanic woman, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control." 

Valle takes aim at the attacks on an already "attacked" group. "They're anti-woman. They're anti-immigrant," she says. "This ad is just one more place for Latino communities to be attacked." She says her organization, as well as other like-minded groups, are asking whoever thought up the idea and the billboard companies themselves to take them down.
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