Latino Catholics make common cause with evangelicals on pro-life issues while seeing division in their own ranks

Evangelical Christians and Latino Catholics are increasingly cooperating on pro-life issues, though there are emerging divisions among the latter that may complicate this alliance, writes J. D. Long-Garcia in America magazine (September 16). The pro-life alliance between the two groups could be seen in rallies this past summer at the state capitol building in Providence, as they sought to challenge Rhode Island’s Reproductive Health Care Act that codified Roe v. Wade into state law. This alliance should not be surprising considering both groups’ pro-life commitments. A recent survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that most Hispanics who said they were affiliated with a religion were also pro-life, including 58 percent of Hispanic Protestants and 52 percent of Hispanic Catholics. Overall, Hispanics were the only race or ethnicity where a majority of respondents thought that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, 41 percent of non-Hispanic white Americans and 42 percent of white Catholics showed largely pro-life views. But the divide among Hispanics on this issue is more complicated. Among younger Hispanic Catholics (ages 18 to 24), 55 percent said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Although 59 percent of Hispanic immigrants took a pro-life position, 57 percent of Hispanics born in the mainland United States supported legal abortion. Additionally, 53 percent of Hispanics born in Puerto Pico said that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases.

Long-Garcia reports that while first-generation immigrants tend to be pro-life, their children become much more secularized as they move to higher education. Parishes’ pro-life ministries, tending to be run by elderly white ladies from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, have difficulty involving young adults. And parishes that are predominately Latino do not always engage in specific pro-life outreach, according to Gina De Los Santos, a parish engagement strategist. The parish groups tend to be focused on prayer or devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. She adds that culturally, Latinos are more likely to identify as pro-family than as pro-life. The term “pro-life” has only really become known in the community in the last 10 years. At the same time, a number of studies have found that many Latino parents are uncomfortable discussing certain subjects with their children, like sex, pornography and abortion. Despite the PRRI study’s finding that 45 percent of all Hispanic Americans support legal abortion, there is still stigma attached to it in the Hispanic community, evident in telenovelas where women who have abortions are portrayed as villains.