Earlier this year, I named the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) one of my Giving Tuesday Top 5 organizations for their tireless advocacy around racial justice and women’s rights. NAPAWF has been at the forefront of many key issues relevant to the the AANHPI community, chief among them reproductive rights. For years, NAPAWF has engaged in a state-by-state fight to protect our reprodictive rights (which is of particular importance for the AANHPI community) in part by challenging conservative efforts to rollback abortion access with overtly race-baiting bans on abortions if doctors find that the procedure is sought for reasons such as fetal sex. Despite the lack of any evidence that women are seeking such abortions in any significant numbers, these restrictions are passed on the basis of stereotyping of Black, Asian and immigrant parents as immoral and sexist. Further, these racist laws have received scant commentary or criticism from mainstream media or center-aisle Democrats.
Two years ago, NAPAWF joined forces with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to file a lawsuit challenging one particularly vile and racist abortion ban in Arizona, which is noteworthy for its unusually explicit fear-mongering of Black and Asian women during debate that preceded passage of this as the first bill to ban race-selective abortion in addition to sex-selective abortion.
Last year, nearly 500 restrictions on abortion and reproductive choice were proposed at the state level nation-wide. Among those abortion restrictions were bans on sex-selective abortion; bans that have now passed in eight states — Arizona, Illinois, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Kansas and North Carolina.
Advanced by Republican pro-life legislators, the ban on sex-selective abortions cite concerns that appear superficially feminist: to protect the “unborn” from gender discrimination prior to birth. Further, these bans are based on the assertion that male-biased birth ratios are evidence of sex-selective abortion; that these male-biased birth ratios are only found in India and China; that these male-biased birth ratios are evidence of sex-selective abortion occurring in the United States; that the growing influx of Asian women immigrants from India and China means sex-selective abortion is occurring here; and that the U.S. is one of the few remaining countries in the world that has yet to ban sex-selective abortion. As I wrote about last year, these are the kinds of arguments that are being expressed on the floor of state legislatures, and they are succeeding in restricting reproductive rights for women living in those states.
Yet, closer examination of the arguments of Republican legislators reveals that it is predominantly unfounded and wholly racist anti-Asian stereotypes — not facts — that serve as the principle justification for these recent restrictions on sex-selective abortions.
I guess my friend Mike Bryan of Blog for Arizona was right. Faced with mounting state-wide and national pressure from activsts, business leaders, her own advisors, and even members of the Arizona GOP, Governor Jan Brewer did the only thing that made sense.
Last week, Arizona passed a disturbingly dense State Senate bill called SB1062. This is a bill that it’s authors have dubbed the “religious freedom” bill, but which is really a free pass for Arizonans to legally discriminate against anyone they feel like on ostensibly religious grounds.
The bill’s authors pedantically claim that the bill is exclusively intended to protect the right for Arizonan’s to exercise their religion, a right that Arizona state senator, SB1062 bill supporter, and possible talking tree stump Capt. Al Melvin could not convince Anderson Cooper last night was even in danger in the state of Arizona ( video after the jump).
It’s been about three years since I’ve lived in Arizona, but while I lived there, I used to contribute to the best political blog in the state – Blog for Arizona; in this capacity, I was privy to a lot of the sheer ridiculousness that the Legislature of that state passes off as “doing the people’s work”. I didn’t think much could surprise me anymore — not when they outlawed ethnic studies; or banned affirmative action; or passed SB1070; or even passed the birther bill after Arizonans were convinced then-Senator Barack Obama was secretly born in Kenya.
But, I gotta tell you, SB1062 — which passed the Arizona State Senate yesterday by pretty wide margins — has thrown me for a bit of a loop.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!