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Latino Millennials: Conservative On Abortion, Wide Support For Contraception

Image: Graduating students listen to U.S. President Obama speak during commencement at the University of Michigan
File photo of university students at commencement. KEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters
/ Source: NBC News

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Hispanic millennials hold the most conservative views on abortion among their white, black and Asian counterparts, but similar to them, have little moral dilemma about using contraception and believe it should be widely accessible.

A survey of adults ages 18 to 35 released Friday by the Public Religion Research Institute found 54 percent of Latino millennials said abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. However, only 27 percent thought abortion was a critical issue compared to 55 percent who said access to health care is more important.

Millennials were split on whether they consider abortion morally wrong. More than a third of young Latinos said it depended on the situation, and 46 percent agreed that in some circumstances having an abortion could be the most responsible decision a woman could make.

“On the issue of abortion, we find millennials overall look very similar to their parents and grandparents on this issue. They tend not to be more liberal,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI.

In comparison to these findings, there was no majority on the legality of abortion among Hispanic voters surveyed by Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends before last November’s midterm elections. Pew found 44 percent of Hispanics said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases and 48 percent thought abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Latinos make up about a fifth of the millennial population. Because Latinas are younger than whites, they are more likely to be having and raising children or dealing with reproductive health issues.

Abortion continues to be a hot political issue, with attempts to restrict abortions cropping up in federal legislation related to human trafficking, Medicare payments and the nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general.

It’s an issue that Republicans often point to as a value shared with Latinos.

But the survey also found a stark difference with abortion foes, who have made strides in some states to close health clinics that perform abortions or make referrals for them, but also are the only outlets for poorer women for other reproductive services.

"There’s very broad support across racial and ethnic lines for contraception among younger Americans and that includes Latinos,” Jones said.

There also is strong support for affordability and making contraception available for women who can’t afford it and having contraception available on college campuses, he said.

Eighty-four percent of Latino millennials support expanding access to contraception to women who can’t afford it, three percentage points higher than all millennials. Also, 67 percent of young Hispanics believe that say that privately owned corporations should be required to provide employees with health care plans that cover contraception at no cost.

Finally, Latinos were more reluctant to label themselves with the language of the abortion debate - "pro-life" or "pro-choice." Nearly 70 percent of Latinos said either both of those labels describe them well or neither.

The survey of 2,314 millennials who are part of the GfK's Knowledge Panel was conducted between Feb. 12 and Feb. 25. Interviews were done online in English and Spanish. The sample included 608 Hispanics. The survey funded by the Ford Foundation has a margin of error plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. For Hispanics the margin of error is plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.