OpEd: Many Asian Women Will Bear Brunt of Roe’s Reversal

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By Dumphasizer via Flickr Creative Commons

By Roshni Nedungadi

In an unsurprising but still horrifying move, the Republican-controlled Supreme Court reversed the decades-long precedent that has guaranteed federal abortion protections. With Republican state legislatures advancing their ploy to limit reproductive healthcare and criminalize women who seek abortions, the burden will fall heavily on women of color, including Asian women. 

During our HIT Strategies focus groups of Democratic voters, we saw a diverse coalition of voters react to last month’s leaked news about Roe‘s reversal in real-time. Most expressed fear and an increased desire to participate politically.  

Still, when pundits advocate for activating “suburban women,” often a code for moderate, white women, to protect abortion rights, they overlook the possibility of activating the women most harmed by the loss of reproductive freedoms. Eliminating Roe is a matter of life or death for women of color, who deal with higher rates of pregnancy complications and might need abortion access to save their lives. Asian women are part of this group that would be particularly harmed by changes in federal and state abortion laws.  

For instance, sex-selective abortion bans have popped up across the U.S., criminalizing abortion providers for administering care if they suspect a woman is obtaining an abortion because of the sex of the child. These laws, already on the books in 13 states, specifically target Asian women, weaponizing the harmful stereotype that Asian women prefer one sex of a child over another. Not only do these laws exacerbate growing anti-Asian discrimination, but they also erect yet another barrier to AAPI women seeking access to a full range of healthcare choices.  

Furthermore, new abortion laws in states will disproportionately impact recent immigrants to the United States, many of whom already face distinct financial, linguistic, and cultural barriers separate from their American-born counterparts.  

Meanwhile, electorally, 74% of AAPI women are supportive of Roe v. Wade and are beginning voting in record numbers. 

One reason for this high support is that, historically, many Asian countries are more tolerant of abortion access and have legalized medical procedures. Despite this background, the model minority myth obscures Asian Americans’ healthcare needs, especially in reproductive health. This results in Asian Americans being excluded from national conversations on abortion access. While more work is needed on this topic, current data finds substantial variations in abortion rates by country of origin, emphasizing the need to view abortion in this country more comprehensively. 

Still, abortion restrictions are rarely framed by Democrats and the media in intersectional terms, especially for Asian women. This is terrible policy and politics for those who want to protect abortion access. Instead of appearing solely focused on winning over more moderate, white, suburban women, Democrats need to energize non-white voters, Asian voters included, to sound the alarm on the immediate harm rolling back abortion access will cause. 

As I wrote previously, archaic and dangerous abortion restrictions are exploding and threaten women of all races and backgrounds. Democrats must place a particular focus on Asian women along with all women of color as they mobilize voters in the fight for reproductive justice. 

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Roshni Nedungadi is a founding partner and Chief Research Officer of HIT Strategies, the leading millennial and minority-owned public opinion research firm in Washington, D.C. She leads polling for reproductive health advocacy groups, political organizations and political campaigns

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1 COMMENT

  1. If you feel so strongly about abortion, legislate it. Asian woman bear the brunt of abortion?? How about many opposing the vile practice..

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