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Asian American Group to Challenge Arizona’s Sex Selection Abortion Ban

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Photo by Jac Malloy

By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent

This Wednesday, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) will  challenge Arizona’s ban on so-called race-selective and sex-selective abortions.

NAPAWF along with the Maricopa County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (MC-NAACP) argue the law “targets and stigmatizes Black and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and is based entirely on racially motivated stereotypes and generalizations about Black and AAPI women’s reasons for deciding to terminate a pregnancy.”

Lawmakers in support of the ban cite high numbers of sex-selective abortions in Asian countries as a primary reason why the ban should be enacted.

The case will be heard in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. In 2011, the Arizona legislature passed the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011”

Pro Life Rally
Photo by Miss Monica Elizabeth. Licensed under Wikimedia Commons.

(PRENDA). An earlier court ruling upheld the law on the grounds the NAACP and NAPAWF had no legal grounds to challenge it. The court said, in effect, that if there is no individual claiming that they were personally denied the ability to obtain an abortion, then there is no harm in this case to bring suit. Both groups are challenging that ruling in the Ninth Circuit Court this Wednesday.

” The Arizona law unconstitutionally and unequivocally discriminates against people of color, including Asian Americans,” Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of NAPAWF said to AsAmNews. “Specifically, lawmakers in support of the ban cite high numbers of sex-selective abortions in Asian countries as a primary reason why the ban should be enacted. The Arizona ban was passed based upon racist stereotypes about Asian Americans that have no basis in fact.”

Yeung cites a study by the University of Chicago which found recent national data from the 2007 to 2011 American Community Survey (ACS) shows that foreign-born Chinese, Indians and Koreans have more girls than boys. In fact these groups have more girls than the overall White population.

The same study also found that 13 countries have higher ratios of boys than girls. Six of those countries are in Europe versus four in Asia.

“The ban would not protect girls — or women,” said Yeung.  “In fact, sex-selective abortion bans harm women by encouraging racial profiling by some medical providers, causing the denial of reproductive health care services and leading to further stigmatization, particularly of Asian American women. This ban is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and part of a broader strategy to chip away at a woman’s constitutional right to abortion.”

This case has national significance in that almost half the states in the country as well as the U.S. Congress have tried to pass similar laws.

“We must expose these bans for what they really are: A cynical attempt to deny women access to abortion by stereotyping and stigmatizing Asian Americans,” said Yeung.  “The vast majority of Asian Americans support the legal right to abortion. This case is also important because the court will make an important decision about whether the racism in our case causes sufficient harm to merit standing. Our rights both as women and as Asian Americans are at stake.”



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