By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow (Executive Director, NAPAWF)
One year after the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme
Court, women of color, our families, and our communities are still under
attack. This time last year, more than 100 women and people of color from all
over the country traveled to Washington, DC to voice our strong opposition to
Kavanaugh at the first-ever Reproductive Justice Day of Action. We showed our
collective power in the halls of Congress to fight Kavanaugh’s nomination
because we knew it would exacerbate the decades-long degradation of our rights
and disregard for our lives, our families, and communities.
The Trump administration is holding true to the president’s campaign trail promise to wage a war on women, and the women who are suffering the greatest effects of the president’s hateful policies remain low-income women of color.
Under Title X, reproductive healthcare programs can apply to receive federal funding in order to provide family planning and reproductive healthcare services for low-income patients — all of whom are thereby able to access critical family planning services and reproductive healthcare for little or no cost. Title X funding helps to maintain several community-based reproductive healthcare clinics across the clinic that offer contraceptive services, prenatal care, routine tests and screenings, and treatment for sexually-transmitted infection.
Pandering to his Far Right anti-abortion base, the president’s administration instituted a new federal rule earlier this year that would prevent any reproductive healthcare provider that receives Title X funds from helping patients learn from their doctor where they can obtain abortion services, even if through medically-informed counseling the patient decides that an abortion is the best course of action. This ‘gag rule’ — which effectively restricts the information a patient can receive from their doctor — is a heinous affront to reproductive healthcare access, and it will specifically impact low-income women of colour who rely on Planned Parenthood for family planning and reproductive healthcare access, including thousands of Asian American women.
Today, Planned Parenthood announced that due to the Trump administration’s gag rule, it would no longer accept Title X funding, threatening the network of clinics that Planned Parenthood operates across the country.
I’ve already written at length about why Donald Trump’s fear-mongering and race-baiting has exacerbated this country’s hostility towards people of colour, and how his rhetoric will ultimately prove damaging for the Republican Party. In the meanwhile, however, people of colour will have to find a way to survive a general election that has popularized derogatory and racist remarks — and open assault — towards non-White people. Today’s decision is by Trump is only more bad news, particularly for AAPI immigrants, women and LGBT individuals and other immigrants, LGBT folks, and other women of colour.
Today, the Supreme Court handed down another major decision. After they voted last week to protect affirmative action (yay!), but then were deadlocked on DACA and DAPA effectively killing the Obama Administration’s sweeping relief for undocumented immigrants (boo!), I wasn’t sure if I could take any more important SCOTUS decisions. Thankfully, the weekend offered a brief reprieve before today, when Justice Stephen Breyer announced the 5-3 majority opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Texas wherein the Court sided with reproductive health providers against the “undue burden” placed upon them by Texas legislators.
In the historic Roe v. Wade decision that first legalized abortion as a constitutionally-protected right, Supreme Court justices ruled that “abortion . . . is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient.” However, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the majority of Supreme Court justices also established that “unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion impose an undue burden on the right [to access abortion procedures].” In Whole Woman’s Health v. Texas, the Supreme Court was challenged to decide whether newly passed regulations on the Texas’ abortion clinics — requiring that clinics have extra-wide hallways and that abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals — posed an undue burden that unconstitutionally compromised abortion access for Texas’ women.
The regulations were passed in Texas as part of a concerted national effort by conservative anti-abortion activists and legislators to eliminate abortion access by enacting state-level Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws. In essence, the anti-abortion movement seeks to disenfranchise women by enacting laws state-by-state that make the constitutional right to access abortion procedures so practically tedious as to be essentially inaccessible for the vast majority of women.
43 years ago today, the Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision that would serve as an important foundation principle for the establishment of reproductive rights for women. In a 7-2 decision, the Justices ruled that the government had no right to interfere with a woman’s decision to seek (or not seek) an abortion for non-medical reasons; this choice, they declared, was protected by our constitutional right to privacy.
Since then, Roe v. Wade has had an incredible impact on women, enabling an unprecedented social, political and economic mobility for women in general.