Catholics for Choice looks to reach more Latinos with new Spanish-language platforms

(RNS) — The nonprofit Catholics for Choice, which supports abortion rights, is seeking to further reach Latino Catholics in the U.S. by launching Spanish-language social media platforms.

The group announced the launch in early June, but its new Spanish-language Twitter and Instagram, which amplify the organization’s campaigns and events, have been active since about early April.

Catholics for Choice opposes the church’s official stance against abortion, which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops describes as “gravely contrary to the moral law.”

It’s an issue that U.S. bishops are grappling with at their annual spring gathering, debating whether President Joe Biden, a Catholic who has supported abortion rights legislation, and other pro-choice Catholic politicians should be denied Communion. On the day of Biden’s inauguration, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez issued a statement expressing his concern about the president pursuing policies “that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity.”

Meanwhile, more than half of U.S. Catholics (56%) said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a 2019 Pew survey.

Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, which emphasizes reproductive freedom as a Catholic social justice value, said one of the organization’s goals is engage Latinos and immigrants, who she said are disproportionately impacted by anti-abortion legislation.

They are also often religious.

While the percentage of U.S. Latino Catholics has declined, a 2014 study by Boston College and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found Latinos made up about 40% of the Catholic population.

Jamie Manson. Photo courtesy of Catholics for Choice

Jamie Manson. Photo by Brea, courtesy of Catholics for Choice

“The anti-choice movement is religious and it’s predominantly Catholic and evangelical … where you have a lot of Latinx people,” Manson said, adding that it’s important to reach these populations “because the church has so much power.”

The idea for the Spanish-language content surfaced during the 2020 election season, Manson said, particularly in Colorado when Proposition 115 — a measure that would have banned abortion after 22 weeks — was on the ballot.

The proposition failed, but Manson said activists on the ground alerted her that Spanish-speaking immigrants were being targeted in “manipulative ways by the Christian right wing.”

“That kind of felt like a call to action,” she said.

Lilian Medina Romero, the organization’s Latin American coordinator, said Latino immigrants in the U.S. often rely on Catholic support networks, health care providers and hospitals that, she said, withhold information about reproductive health care.

This Spanish-language outreach, Romero said, “will allow us to provide newly arriving immigrants with information that will help empower them to make the best health care decisions for themselves and their families.”

As majorities of people across racial and ethnic groups say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, white (57%) and Latino (58%) adults are less likely to say so when compared with Black (67%) and Asian (68%) adults, a 2021 Pew Research Center survey found.

Abortion attitudes are also beginning to shift across Latin America.

In Mexico, where Roman Catholicism is the dominant faith, a growing feminist movement has called for more abortion access.

While elective abortion is only allowed in Mexico City and the state of Oaxaca, support for abortion among Mexicans rose from 29% in March to 48% in November 2020, according to a survey published by the news organization El Financiero Bloomberg.

Abortion-rights activists hold hangers, symbolizing illegal abortions, and signs reading in Spanish

Abortion-rights activists hold hangers, symbolizing illegal abortions, and signs reading in Spanish “Goodbye” after lawmakers approved a bill that legalizes abortion outside Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Dec. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Victor Caivano)

Last December, Argentina became the largest nation in Latin America to legalize elective abortion after its Senate passed a law guaranteeing the procedure up to the 14th week of pregnancy and beyond that in cases of rape or when a woman’s health is at risk, according to The Associated Press.

The vote was seen as a win for the country’s feminist movement that could pave the way for similar actions across the socially conservative, heavily Roman Catholic region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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