Jun 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Latinos split on abortion by generation

Illustration of red and blue speech bubbles cut in half, colliding and cracking
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Half of U.S. Latinos say abortion should be legal — but one-fourth say it should be illegal at all times under any circumstance — according to a new Axios-Ipsos Latino Poll in partnership with Noticias Telemundo.

The big picture: Support for abortion rights depended heavily on whether respondents were born in the U.S.: 41% of immigrants said abortion should be legal, jumping to 59% and 62% respectively with second- and third-generation Americans.

  • The national survey was conducted days before the Supreme Court ended Roe v. Wade.
  • Only 29% of Latinos who spoke only Spanish at home said abortion should be legal, compared to 63% of Latinos who spoke only English.

Why it matters: Last week's ruling, which could lead to half of the states banning abortion, is likely to have an outsized effect on women of color, exacerbating "the considerable health inequities that already exist,” civil rights group UnidosUS said in a statement.

  • Individuals' views on abortion also may have some impact on midterm elections. Democrats are pushing abortion as a major issue, and young Latinos are crucial to Democrats' fate.
  • Asked which major party they felt was good on abortion issues, 31% said the Democratic Party while 13% said the Republican Party.
  • But, at least at the time of the survey, only one in 10 respondents said abortion was among their top three worries, placing it will below inflation, gun violence or climate change.

By the numbers: 40% of Republican respondents, 24% of independents and 21% of Democrats said abortion should be illegal.

  • Support for access to contraception was overwhelming, with just 12% of overall respondents saying birth control should be illegal.

The intrigue: Ipsos pollster and senior vice president Chris Jackson said declining religiosity appears at least in part to explain the difference between immigrant and U.S. born Latinos on abortion views. "I think generation does also have a pretty strong correlation with religiosity," he said.

  • First-generation Americans are more likely both to identify as religious and to say they regularly attend services.
  • He said just 18% of first-generation Latinos said they never attend religious services compared with 40% and 46% of second- and third-generation respondents, respectively.

The other side: Latinos who oppose abortion for religious reasons celebrated the Supreme Court decision.

  • The Vatican put out a similar statement, saying being pro-life goes beyond a stance on abortion and includes “for example, being concerned if the mortality rates of women due to motherhood increase.”

Zoom out: The hardening of abortion access in the U.S. comes as countries in Latin America have made it more accessible after years of restrictions that didn’t reduce the rates of abortion.

  • The so-called Green Wave of sustained public protests (nicknamed after the handkerchief used by protesters) helped propel those changes in Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.
  • “My hope, and the biggest lesson we can take from those Latin American advances, is in the power of the Marea Verde: that demonstrating can make a difference,” Paula Avila-Guillen, of the nonprofit Women's Equality Center, told Axios.

Methodology: This Axios/Ipsos Latino Poll, in partnership with Noticias Telemundo, was conducted June 9-18 by Ipsos' KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,018 Hispanic/Latino adults age 18 or older.

The margin of sampling error is ±3.7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample.

Subscribe to Axios Latino and get more news that matters about Latinos and Latin America, delivered right to your inbox on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Go deeper