A new survey published in Politics and Gender shows that “the vast majority of Latinos and Latinas strongly agree women should…have easy access to contraception.” Further, researchers warn that “strategic political positioning against access to birth control will not yield Latino votes.”

According to research analyzing the social attitudes toward women in the Latino community:

Conventional wisdom suggests Latinos, and men in particular, have strong preferences for traditional gender roles. Similarly, one might expect recent immigrants to hold significantly more conservative views about women’s social roles relative to their American-born counterparts. In a recent Politics and Gender article, Celeste Montoya, Christina Bejarano and I examine these suppositions. We find neither to be true; Latinos and Latinas overwhelmingly share egalitarian attitudes about gender equality. Opinion differences occur, but they are quite small. Perhaps most importantly, we find no instance where men and women are on opposite sides of the issues we studied.

Attitudes about gender roles were measured using four items from the 2006 Latino National Survey (LNS), which is the most comprehensive study of Latino political attitudes to date: 1) Men and women should get equal pay when they are in the same job; 2) Women should have easy access to birth control/contraception; 3) Mothers should be more responsible for caring for their children than fathers; and 4) Men are better qualified to be political leaders than women.

The study, conducted by Celeste Montoya, Christina Bejarano, and Sylvia Manzano for Latino Decisions, says that “regardless of nativity, the vast majority of Latinos and Latinas strongly agree women should… have easy access to contraception.” It also explains that “over 80 percent of Latinos in all cases agree or strongly agree” that women should have access to birth control and “over 60 percent of Latino conservatives, men, the U.S. born, Catholics, born again Christians, liberals, women, and immigrants strongly agree women should have easy access to birth control.”

“Strategic political positioning against access to birth control will not yield Latino votes,” researchers warn.

A recent decision by the federal government requiring health insurers to cover birth control as a preventative health service has stirred controversy as of late, particularly among religious groups and conservatives who claim the decision is an infringement on religious freedom.

Latino Decisions, 2, March 5, 2012

Despite the controversy surrounding the birth control mandate, polls show that a majority of Americans support the decision. Even with considerable support for the mandate, seven states – including Florida – are suing the federal government over the decision, claiming it violates citizens’ First Amendment rights.

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