Sep 13, 2022 - News

Abortion dominates health care conversation in 8th District race

Illustration of a healthcare cross, half red, half blue, with the colors fighting to take over the whole cross.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The campaign trail sounds different this year when it comes to health care.

State of play: While the Affordable Care Act dominated the conversation in prior elections, the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has shifted focus on abortion and broader health care access.

  • Yadira Caraveo, a state lawmaker and pediatrician, typically fields questions from voters about their latest medical malady or hospital bill. As she campaigns for the open 8th Congressional District seat, it's more about "future limitations for what is medical care," she tells Axios Denver.

Why it matters: The issue is one of the major differentiators between the candidates.

The big picture: The focus on abortion is benefiting Democrats and challenging Republicans, who are mostly silent on health care and the law they once derided as "Obamacare," Axios' Victoria Knight writes.

  • It poses a question: What will the GOP's health care agenda look like if the party flips control of one or both houses of Congress?

Zoom in: This is evident in the contest for the 8th District, north of Denver, where the Latino vote is a primary focus.

Caraveo supports access to abortion, and said she wasn't surpirsed to learn that a recent poll shows she aligned with Latino voters on the issue.

  • "In terms of Latino engagement, that's something that I don’t have to make an effort to espouse or prioritize — I'm part of the Latino community," Caraveo told Axios Denver.

Her Republican rival, state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, opposes abortion, and said she believes life begins at conception. Kirkmeyer said her stance won't hurt her among voters because they are more concerned with the economy and family issues.

  • "No, I am not concerned about attracting Hispanic voters or talking to Hispanic voters, because I believe their issues are the same as our issues," Kirkmeyer said.

What they're saying: Democrats may still need to tread lightly in highlighting the issue.

Commerce City resident Rhena Martinez, a Democrat, said she won't support a candidate who backs supports abortion, including one from her own party.

  • "I come from a culture where we don't believe it's OK," the 43-year-old told Axios Denver in Spanish.
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