Democrats, Sensing Shift on Abortion Rights Among Latinas, Push for More Gains

Hours before Arizona state legislators voted to repeal an 1864 abortion ban last month, a group of mostly Latina Democrats huddled at a nearby Mexican restaurant for a strategy session on galvanizing Latina voters over abortion rights.

“I am 23 — why do I have less rights than my abuelita in Mexico?” Melissa Herrera, a Democratic campaign staffer, asked the cluster of women at the restaurant, referring to her grandmother.

The question crystallized what Democrats hope will be a decisive electoral factor in their favor this year, one that upends conventional political wisdom: A majority of Latino voters now support abortion rights, according to polls, a reversal from two decades ago. Polling trends, interviews with strategists and election results in Ohio and Virginia, where abortion rights played a central role, suggest Democrats’ optimism regarding Latinas — once considered too religious or too socially conservative to support abortion rights — could bear out.

Since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in 2022, stringent curbs have been taking effect in Republican-dominated states. In Arizona, for one, the May 2 repeal of the blanket ban from 1864 still leaves abortions governed by a two-year-old law prohibiting the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exception for rape or incest.

As of April 2023, according to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Latinos believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Twenty years earlier, most Hispanics told Pew that they opposed abortion rights by a nearly two-to-one margin. (The most recent polling has been conducted online, instead of over the phone, but the surveys show an overall gradual shift in opinions.)

The fight for abortion rights “is still not over,” said Mary Rose Wilcox, who owns El Portal.Credit…Paul Ratje for The New York Times
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