In the News

Latino Voters and the Abortion Myth

Adriana Maestas
Politic365
Lunes, Enero 23, 2012

It has often been said that Latino voters are socially conservative although they may lean more progressively on issues like immigration and access to education. This line of thought probably goes back to the Reagan years when he said: “Hispanics are already Republican. They just don’t know it yet.” Many Latinos are Roman Catholic or belong to evangelical churches, so the assumption that they are pro-life makes sense on its surface.

Social issues have come to largely define this year’s GOP primary race, and still many cite this notion that Latinos are pro-life conservatives who may vote Republican because of their strong convictions on this issue. Politic365 contributor Alicia Menendez even appeared on a segment on MSNBC last year discussing Latinos and social issues with Jose Diaz Balart. At that time, Jose Diaz Balart said, “…the average Latino in this country is socially more conservative than other groups. I think that issues like abortion and other social issues are important.”

Well, abortion may be important, but a new survey of Latino voters conducted by Lake Research Partners finds that strong majorities oppose government interference in personal decisions about abortion. And a majority of Latino voters surveyed indicated that they would not be judgmental toward someone who has had an abortion. Here are some key results from this newly released study:

  • Latinos support a woman’s right to make decisions.
  • 74% of Latino registered voters agree that a woman has a right to make her own personal, private decisions about abortion without politicians interfering.
  • Latinos don’t think we should judge other women’s decisions.
  • 73% of Latino registered voters agree that we should not judge someone who feels they are not ready to be a parent. 57% strongly agrees with this statement.
  • Latinos are supportive of close friends and family members choosing abortion.
  • 67% of Latino voters say they would give support to a close friend or family member who had an abortion. 43% say they would provide a lot of support. Only 23% says they would not feel comfortable offering support.
  • Latinos don’t think money should determine access to abortion.
  • 61% agree that the amount of money a woman has or does not have should not determine whether she could have an abortion when she needs one.
  • Latinos are willing to disagree with church leaders.
  • 68% agree with the statement “even though church leaders take a position against abortion, when it comes to the law, I believe it should remain legal.”

This data largely flies in the face of the “conventional wisdom” surrounding Latino voters on the abortion issue. In many ways, I’m not surprised. As a Latina who was raised in a Catholic household, I have found many family members and friends to be largely tolerant on the abortion issue. Many of us have more nuanced views on abortion and reproductive health despite religious affiliation and church doctrine.

As the social issues continue to play a role in primary states with large evangelical constituencies, it will be interesting if the GOP continues to reach out to Latino voters based on the perceived social agenda. These kinds of messages may not be well received this election year.