To: Interested Parties
From: Reproductive Freedom for All Research Team
Date: December 6th, 2023
Harnessing the Power of a Broader, Diverse, and Engaged Coalition for Reproductive Freedom
Despite pervasive claims that young voters are less engaged in the fight for reproductive freedom and that voters of color are less supportive of abortion care, research consistently shows these assertions are untrue. Now, it’s time for conventional wisdom to follow the data.
To be crystal clear: young people and communities of color are, and have been, the strongest supporters of abortion rights, birth control access, and reproductive freedom. This was most recently affirmed in Ohio, where Black, Latino, and younger voters were the base of support that carried Issue 1 to victory.
Public polling shows time again that abortion is one of the most salient issues for young people today. The data also shows that Black people and people of color overwhelmingly support reproductive freedom and abortion access, in larger proportions than their white counterparts. This should not come as a surprise given that young voters and people of color are the most harmed by abortion bans and attacks on reproductive freedom.
As the attacks on abortion access continue and the fight for reproductive freedom is playing out at the federal, state, and local levels, it is more crucial than ever to correct these harmful assumptions and engage everyone in the fight for our fundamental freedoms.
Abortion is a Top Issue for Young Voters
Post-election polling from the 2022 midterms showed that abortion was more top of mind for voters than ever before, especially among younger demographics. Motivated by the loss of their constitutional right to abortion and threats to ban abortion at the state and federal level, Gen Z (11-26 year olds) and millennial (27-42 year olds) voters backed Democrats by historic margins in the last election cycle. Even well into 2023, the salience of abortion remains with 85% of young voters saying abortion is an important issue.
- 51% of voters aged 18-34 said abortion played a larger role in their voting decision during the midterms than it had in prior elections.
- 44% of voters aged 18-29 said abortion was their top issue in deciding their vote in the 2022 election. The same post-election poll showed that young voters were the most likely to say abortion should be legal in all or most cases (72%).
- 74% of young voters said they trusted Democrats more to handle abortion
- Young voters who support legal abortion are also the age group most likely to have a political litmus test for candidates with 31% saying that they will only vote for a candidate who shares their view on abortion. This is compared with only 22% of those 65+ and 24% of those aged 50-64.
- 84% of young voters of color believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, substantially more than their white counterparts.
Voters of Color Are Consistently More Supportive of Reproductive Freedom
Despite consistent data that shows voters of color have higher levels of support for abortion access than white voters, the myth persists that these voters are less aligned with the reproductive freedom movement. This is especially true of younger voters of color who show extremely high levels of support for abortion rights. A 2022 poll found that 87% of Gen Z voters of color support legal abortion.
Whether it’s access to legal abortion, medication abortion, or a broader scope of reproductive healthcare, voters of color consistently exhibit higher levels of support than their white peers and are disproportionately likely to be harmed by abortion bans.
Asian American Voters
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are the quickest growing population in the United States and display one of the highest levels of support for abortion access. This fast growing population is made up of over 50 ethnic and racial subgroups and over 100 languages and dialects. As a broad and diverse group with some of the highest levels of support for abortion access, there is an urgent need to tap into this base of support.
- 79% of AAPI voters believe abortion should remain legal.
- 77% of AAPI voters say they are supportive of abortion access compared with only 61% of white voters voicing support.
- 71% of AAPI voters say they would vote to protect abortion rights in their state, while only 63% of white voters said the same.
- 69% of AAPI voters would prefer a candidate who supports abortion rights, and as Republicans increase their calls for a federal ban, only 18% of AAPI voters would support a national ban.
Black voters have long been at the forefront of the fight for broader abortion access and the reproductive justice movement. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has had far-reaching effects across the country, but Black Americans are disproportionately harmed by the Dobbs decision.
Unsurprisingly, Black voters consistently show high levels of support and activism around reproductive freedom. When it comes to a litany of policies surrounding reproductive health care and access, Black voters typically show higher levels of support than white voters.
- Black voters (58%) are among the most likely to support a candidate who supports abortion access compared with only 44% of white voters. Black voters are also more likely than others to connect abortion rights and access to bodily autonomy, women’s rights, health care, affordable childcare, paid family leave, and racial justice.
- 79% of Black voters say they did not want to see Roe overturned, the highest among any other group (AAPI voters were at 75% percent, and only 60% percent of white voters said the same.)
- 77% of Black voters say they believed abortion should remain legal.
- 71% of Black voters say they support abortion access compared with only 61% of white voters.
- 71% of Black voters say they would vote to protect abortion rights in their state.
For years there have been widespread assumptions that Latino voters oppose abortion access. But the research is clear and shows that those assumptions are misguided, that Latino voters strongly support reproductive freedom, and that they have serious concerns about abortion bans and restrictions. Abortion is especially salient as an issue among young, Latino voters who disproportionately care about (and are affected by) reproductive freedom and cite it as a driving force behind their vote choice.
- 89% of young Latino voters believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, substantially more than their white counterparts.
- 84% of Latino voters say they think making decisions about whether an abortion is the right option should be between patients and doctors, not politicians and judges.
- 72% of Latino voters across the country agree that it is wrong to make abortion illegal and take that freedom away from others.
- By a 71% to 23% margin, Latino voters oppose efforts to ban and restrict abortion, and by more than a 2 to 1 margin, Latino voters trust Democrats more on abortion.
- 68% of Latino voters say abortion should be legal with nearly the same percentage opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe. Two-thirds of Catholic Latino voters also opposed the ruling.
- 69% of Latino voters are opposed to a nationwide ban on abortion and 68% support Congress passing a law guaranteeing the right to abortion.
- 67% of Latino voters say they would vote to protect abortion rights in their state.
- 60% of Latino voters say abortion should be legal, compared with 59% of white Americans, 68% of Black Americans and 74% of Asian Americans. 61% of Latino Catholics think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
A Path Forward, Together
Young voters and voters of color overwhelmingly support reproductive freedom and other progressive policy issues. They backed Democrats by historic margins during the 2022 election and it will be crucial to harness the power of these voting blocs as we look to 2024.
A new paradigm is needed to expand the movement for reproductive freedom and to move away from baseless assumptions that young people and voters of color are less supportive and engaged in this fight. Advocates for abortion access need to take a more active role in combating these narratives and activating this next generation to participate in the grassroots and electoral battles for reproductive freedom that lie ahead.
It is essential to further engage these voters as attacks on abortion continue. Advocates and our broader movement cannot afford to spend limited time and resources focusing on persuading voters who are already broadly supportive of abortion access. Instead we must focus on engaging, mobilizing, turning out, and removing barriers for voters who support reproductive freedom in 2024 and beyond.