02/17/2012 05:50 pm ET Updated Feb 17, 2012

MALDEF: 2012 Is About Reproductive Justice And Economic Development (VIDEO)

Over a hundred leaders convened this Thursday in Washington, D.C. to attend the annual Latino State of the Union: Roundtable on Law, Policy and Civil Rights hosted by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), the leading U.S. Latino civil rights organization.

Speakers U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, and MALDEF President Thomas A. Saenz joined other panelists to address the upcoming year’s public policy priorities: reproductive justice and economic development.

"Latinos are a dynamic population, growing, changing and diverse, so too are their public policy concerns," said Professor Roberto Suro, Director of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California, at the event.

On the same day, in a debate about contraception policy in Congress, a young woman wasn't allowed to speak about how it affects women, the subject of reproductive justice - making resources available for all persons to make decisions about their health - was addressed by the participants.

Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, prevented Sandra Fluke, a third-year student at Georgetown University Law School, and the Minority designated witness to participate in the debate.

Consequently, two Democratic Representatives walked-out of the session.

Jessica González-Rojas, Executive Director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, stated, "There is urgency in this moment. Latinas are often the most impacted by the attacks on reproductive health and rights and the assaults on immigrant families. Now is the time to make our collective voices heard and stand up for the health, rights and dignity of Latinas."