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Catholics for Choice is translating their content to Spanish to reach Hispanics. Photo: Koya Partners
Catholics for Choice is translating their content to Spanish to reach Hispanics. Photo: Koya Partners

Catholics for Choice wants to tap into the Latino community

The nonprofit hopes to open one of America’s most religious demographics to reproductive freedom rights for all.

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Catholics for Choice may come across as an oxymoronic title for an organization, but their fight is to have the religious and reproductive rights groups not be so juxtaposed. 

Since 1973, the nonprofit has worked both in the United States and around the world to do away with religious-based obstructions to abortion care, contraceptive access and comprehensive health care. 

Last week, the organization announced it would be adding a Spanish-language section to its website and launching dedicated Spanish-language social media pages. 

Its president, Jamie L. Manson, said the initiative would broaden Catholics for Choice’s reach, not only to Latinos in the U.S., but also to all of Latin America. 

“It is vitally important to engage with and empower Spanish-speaking Catholics, not only because Spanish is the native language for so many in the Church, but also because the deadly cost of the Catholic hierarchy’s anti-choice crusade is borne disproportionately by Spanish-speaking women and girls in the Global South, who are cruelly denied contraceptive and abortion access every day,” she said.

Extending their message to the Latino community and the Latin American region are imperative obstacles to overcome if Catholics for Choice plans to reach its goal given how religious these groups are. 

A 2021 survey from Pew Research found that Hispanics are only behind Whites when it comes to being the least supportive of abortions. 

Two out of every five Hispanics believes that the procedure should be made illegal in all or most cases. 

An estimated 77% of Latinos in the U.S. are Christian, according to Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study

This makes them the second most affiliated racial or ethic group in the nation, with Black Americans leading at eight in 10 pledging to a denomination of Christianity.  

Mexico, Colombia and Paraguay are Latin American countries that have over 78% of their populations affiliated with the Catholic Church. Much of their remaining populations are protestant, or part of another religion.  

Most of the region, particularly Central America, has very restrictive laws on abortion or outright bans the practice.  

Pro-choice activists in Argentina celebrated a massive victory on Dec. 30, when abortion legislation passed allowing women to have the procedure up to the 14th week of their pregnancy. 

Beyond that point, it is only legal in cases of rape, or when the mother’s health is at risk. 

Uplifting the voices of Catholics who believe in safe and accessible abortions is a daunting task given the lack of movement on the issue from the Vatican. 

Pope Francis is known for being a more progressive religious leader and he is the first Pope to come from Latin America, but these details do not make him an asset Catholics for Choice can use to further legitimize their movement. 

He has made efforts to de-emphasize abortion as a culture war issue by making it easier for women who have gone through one for their sins to be absolved. In general, he still professes much of the same dogma the church has always held.

“Human life is sacred and inviolable, and the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes should be discouraged with strength,” Francis said.

Manson thinks that much of the current pope’s favorable image comes from his portrayal in the Netflix film The Two Popes, and his support of divorced and remarried people being able to receive communion. 

“The complication with Pope Francis is that he has had an extraordinary PR team behind him the past few years,” the Catholic for Choice president told BBC News

The nonprofit organization anticipates that making their content accessible to Spanish-speakers will garner more backers of their cause. 

Given Latinos’ views on abortion and their strong allegiance to church led by figures who are not prepared to be swayed reproductive right matters, Catholics for Choice will need to beyond translating their current messaging in order to convince them to be more open to reproductive rights.

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