Anti-abortion Latinos look forward to future without Roe v. Wade

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“So many other people have spent their whole lives in this movement,” said anti-abortion activist Maria Oswalt. “It does show that our hard work is paying off.”

The leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark law that legalized abortion nationwide, has emboldened Latinos who are fighting to end abortions in the U.S.

“It gives me a lot of hope. … This is the way that I was hoping it would go,” said Maria Oswalt, 27, of Rehumanize International, a nonprofit organization that opposes abortion. “It was shocking, in a good way, to see that the opinion was very unapologetically overturning Roe V. Wade.”

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The Supreme Court confirmed that the leaked draft was “authentic,” but it said a final opinion hasn’t yet been issued. However, the document is an early indication of where the court is likely to be heading with its final decision.

For Latinos like Oswalt, who is of Ecuadorian and Cuban descent, the leaked draft opinion is essentially a culmination of a decadeslong push by conservatives, religious activists and advocates who oppose abortion.

Pro-life demonstrators pray around the us supreme court in washington
Anti-abortion demonstrators pray Thursday at a National Day of Prayer near an unscalable fence around the Supreme Court in Washington.Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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“It’s been almost 50 years since Roe was decided,” said Oswalt, who became active in the anti-abortion movement several years ago in Alabama, where she grew up. “But so many other people have spent their whole lives in this movement.”

“It does show that our hard work is paying off,” she said.

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Gaby Abosi, an anti-abortion advocate in Florida, said she saw the light at the end of the tunnel when the news broke that Roe v. Wade could be overturned.

“We have hope that everything will change,” said Abosi, 38. “For now, we continue to pray.”

Abosi said she remembers how shocked she was after she moved to Florida from Ecuador in 2012 when she learned how many abortions are performed in the U.S.

Although data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows abortions have decreased in recent years, the procedure is still common. The Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights think tank, estimates that nearly 1 in 4 women in the U.S. will have had an abortion by age 45.

Abosi, who works in real estate, is part of the Archdiocese of Miami Respect Life Ministry. She joins the religious group every Saturday as it gathers outside the Planned Parenthood office in Miami to pray and distribute information about alternatives to abortion to women going into the offices.

“The baby is not at fault for the condition it is in,” Abosi said. “The value that my life has is the same value that an unborn child has.”

Abosi and Oswalt don’t believe abortions should be legal under any circumstance — which would include rape or incest.

Image: pro-choice and anti-abortion activists demonstrate in front of the supreme court on may 3, 2022.
Abortion rights and anti-abortion activists demonstrate Tuesday in front of the Supreme Court.Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Striking down Roe v. Wade would activate “trigger laws” banning all abortions across 13 states in less than 30 days.

It would also give states the power to regulate abortions, taking the matter “out of the hands of the Supreme Court, out of the hands of unelected judges, and allow our legislators to really debate the issue and create laws that reflect the values of our communities,” said Abraham Enriquez, the founder and president of Bienvenidos US, a conservative group in Lubbock, Texas.

Enriquez, who started Bienvenidos US in 2019, said that he has partnered with other anti-abortion organizations and that he even helped organize voters last year when an ordinance was passed banning abortions in Lubbock.

“We stand for the dignity of human life, the integrity of our judicial system and the rule of law,” said Enriquez, 27.

It remains unclear whether abortion could become a deciding issue among Latino voters in coming elections.

While Latinos have long been stamped as being anti-abortion, polls have found that such a sweeping label doesn’t apply.

Last year, a Pew Research Center survey found that 58 percent of Hispanics believed abortion should be legal in all or most cases, about the same as white people, 57 percent. Forty-two percent of Hispanics and 40 percent of white people thought it should always be illegal.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, “Hispanic Americans are the most divided” on the issue of abortion, expressing slightly more opposition (48 percent) than support (45 percent) in 2019.

Place of birth and religious affiliation are the two factors that most influence Latinos’ views on abortion, as well as age, the Public Religion Research Institute found.

But the issue of abortion is even more nuanced for Latinos who don’t consider themselves conservative or Republican, like Oswalt.

“I care deeply about abortion. I care deeply about abolishing the death penalty. I care deeply about establishing a secure social safety net for families in need,” Oswalt said. “It often feels like, if I vote for the Republican candidate, I’m throwing some people under the bus. I’m throwing people on death row under the bus, or immigrants.

“If I go to the flip side and I try to vote for the Democratic candidate, I end up having to throw the unborn under the bus,” she said.

Oswalt didn’t vote for former President Donald Trump, but she said she is excited that the justices he appointed are planning to overturn Roe v. Wade.

She said she thought the Republican Party “has just had too strong of a tie” to the anti-abortion movement, saying she would like others who oppose abortion to “rise up” in other political parties.

“I really don’t want to have to compromise,” she said. “That often means that I vote third party or abstain from voting. That’s what has helped me kind of keep a clean conscience about voting.”

Nicole Acevedo reported from New York and Carmen Sesin from Miami.

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