Can Latinos change the conversation around abortion?
Let’s hope so.
And let’s hope political leaders and candidates are listening.
In purple states and congressional districts across the nation, population growth and redistricting have strengthened the Latino community’s electoral clout, making Latinos one of this year’s most critical swing constituencies.
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In fact, this year control of the White House and Congress might well be decided by Latino voters; so for those candidates interested in engaging the Latino community, here are few tips, bolstered by a recent poll:
- Don’t be afraid to discuss reproductive health. A survey conducted by Lake Research Partners found that an overwhelming share of Latino voters–74 percent–believe a woman should be able to make her own personal, private decision about whether or not to bear a child without politicians interfering.
- Do stand for fairness and justice. Polling shows that most Latinos understand the links between economic fairness and reproductive decision-making: a majority of Latino voters believe that the amount of money a woman has, or doesn’t have, shouldn’t determine whether she can have a legal abortion when she needs one.
- Do talk directly to Latino voters. Even if politicians or church officials hold a different opinion, Latino voters are willing to disagree and make up their own minds.
- Do be careful how you talk about abortion. Instead of a coarse, stigmatizing and divisive discourse, Latinos have embraced compassion and empathy. A strong majority of us–67 percent–are willing to support a close friend or family member who has had an abortion; and three of every four of us agree we should not judge someone who feels they are not ready to be a parent.
In many ways, Latino views on reproductive health put us at the forefront of efforts to find a constructive public dialogue regarding abortion. Latinos want our state and nation’s conversation to be less judgmental and less stigmatizing, both in our language and our treatment of a woman making the decision about whether or not to end a pregnancy.
In political campaigns, reproductive health is too often a hot button social issue that some politicians embrace to divide communities and create electoral wedges.
Polling would indicate this is the wrong approach to engage the Latino community.
Latino voters would prefer abortion be less about ideology and more about respecting and understanding our friends and family members making what can be a difficult decision.
Let’s hope the Latino community does change how this nation talks about abortion. It’s a change that would help both our politics and our communities.