Attacking abortion rights by throwing Asians under the bus

San Francisco resolution opposes this trending abortion ban

Guest Post by Linda Yang

I don't know about you, but going to the lady doctor's office -- or any doctor for that matter -- has never been a walk in the park for me. Reclining on that table covered by a large piece of paper napkin from the waist down, staring at the gray-green drop ceiling, I certainly never feel my most confident or assertive self. Now imagine that instead of focusing on your physical wellbeing, your doctor is guessing whether you are the kind of Asian who is asking about an abortion because you prefer boys over girls. And if they do suspect it, is obligated to deny you abortion services.

This is the exact scenario that Asian American women are finding themselves in Arizona, Oklahoma, Kansas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, North Carolina and South Dakota. Frighteningly, it almost happening in in California, too. Doctors in these states are restricted from providing an abortion to any woman whom they "suspect" of gender preference. Based on what criteria? You might ask. Good question. Not thorough psychological assessment, not family history analysis, no. Because racial stereotypes are used as the tool for restricting access to abortion, doctors have no choice but to "suspect" based on the color of the patient's skin.

Based on what is happening in India and China, and tired stereotypes of Asian Americans as "backward," anti- choice lawmakers claim that Asian Americans are having "sex-selective abortions." Their rhetoric is riddled with xenophobia.

In reality (based on extensive research by the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, the University of Chicago School of Law and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco), Asian Americans are having more girls on average than white Americans are.

What's more ironic, the anti-choicers who support the abortion bans proclaim that they are after girls' equality. Yet they are the same ones that oppose maternity coverage by employers, equal pay for women, childcare benefits… the list goes on. So what they really mean is that girls only matter in-utero. Then after birth, good luck to all of us.

What anti-abortion protagonists are really after is just that: deny women the right to abortion altogether. Taking away access to reproductive services is the ultimate goal, and this time the anti-choice camp is using Asian American women in order to achieve it.

This week, a resolution was introduced to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors opposing such abortion bans. It is the first of its kind and it is my hope, and the hope of many Asian American women, that the resolution will ignite a fire in other cities and states to preserve the hard-fought wins of our reproductive justice foremothers.

Linda Yang is a board member of the National Pacific American Women's Forum. She is an only child whose mother is also an only child, and whose grandmother, after having one girl, said, well, that's enough.

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