The 40th anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision has been widely covered moment in U.S. culture and politics. But two narratives often underexplored in news coverage are:
1. Changing Latino/a attitudes about abortion and reproductive health that conflict with outdated cultural assumptions; and
2. The continuing invisibility of women of color and young women in discussions on Roe and access to reproductive health despite a growing level of engagement in the pro-choice movement.
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), the only national organization working on behalf of the reproductive health and justice of the 24 million Latinas, their families and communities, is doing important work to correct misinformation around both of these issues.
Important facts about Latino/a attitudes about abortion
In recent months, news narratives have finally begun to acknowledge the myth of the “conservative Latino.” But many misconceptions remain. The truth is that Latino/as have compassionate views on abortion and support access to reproductive care for Latinas. NLIRH is underlining this truth by launching “Yo Te Apoyo” (“I support you”) later this month to give Latino/as an opportunity to tell personal stories of how they supported friends and family who decided they weren’t ready to be a parent.
Still, far too often, Latino/as are characterized as “anti-abortion,” even though research has consistently shown that outdated labels like “pro-life” and “anti-abortion” don’t accurately reflect Latino/a sentiment.
· A ground-breaking poll conducted by NLIRH, in partnership with the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, found that Latino/as have compassionate views on abortion. This poll showed a strong majority (nearly three in four) of registered Latino voters agree that a woman has the right to make her own personal private decisions about abortion without politicians interfering and nearly three in four agree we should not judge someone who feels they are not ready to be a parent.
· A poll from the Public Religions Research Institute (PRRI) echoed NLIRH findings.
o The poll shows the majority of Latino/as say that “not judging other people” (72 percent) and “showing compassion for women in difficult circumstances” (68 percent) are very important in shaping their views on the issue of abortion.
· Latino/as bore out these findings at the ballot box this election season, where they definitively endorsed legal abortion and progressive causes:
o Latino/as played a key role in soundly defeating Florida’s Amendment 6, which would have further restricted insurance coverage for abortion, including banning public insurance from covering a woman who needs to end a pregnancy.
o Hispanic voters supported legal abortion at even higher rates than white voters, according to ABC News reporting.
o Latino voters were also more likely than other voters to say they would approve if their state recognized gay marriage.
o Fueled by advocacy by young Latinas across the country, like Angy Rivera and Benita Veliz, voters in Maryland passed the DREAM Act.
Young women and access to abortion
At a time when popular opinion holds that young women aren’t engaged on abortion rights, Latinas, which, as a population skew younger, are engaging. If you’re looking for young voices to include in coverage, consider the NLIRH.
The group has made influential strides in the movement and represents a key constituency — and the entire staff is younger than 40. The executive director, Jessica González-Rojas is just 36 and is a rapidly rising star in the reproductive justice movement. Empowering young advocates is also an important part of their work. NLIRH recently hosted a training for young Latina moms, then took them directly to policy makers on Capitol Hill so they could advocate for polices that would support them in educating themselves and their children and keeping their families healthy.
For more information about Yo Te Apoyo visit their web site at: http://latinainstitute.org/Yo-Te-Apoyo