The Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously today that Massachusetts’ abortion clinic buffer zone ruling is unconstitutional. In 2007, the state amended the state-wide Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act to make it illegal to congregate within 35 feet of the entrance of an abortion clinic, including on public sideways and roadways.
The amendment was implemented to directly address an oft-used tactic by the anti-choice Right: the harassing and abusive screeching and finger-wagging that seeks to shame women entering clinics for seeking an abortion (whether they are actually doing so or not).
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.
Citing experience gained from their travels overseas, Republican lawmakers say that Asians culturally prefer male children over female children. They then cited twostudies that supposedly argue that the likelihood of East Asian families having a male child increases after having two girls, which the authors argue of at least one of these studies suggest may be evidence of pre-natal sex-selection. Then, they cite the US Census showing that South Dakota has a growing Asian population constituting 1.1% of the state in 2012.
Finally, in their logical piece de resistance: they argue that all women seeking an abortion in South Dakota last year who marked “Other” were Asian, and thus were seeking an abortion based on the sex of the fetus.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014, marked the 41st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which established a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices — including abortion — under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Taken together, these data clearly indicate that reproductive health is a critical, if woefully under-discussed, concern for Asian American women. Furthermore, any effort to target public policies that promote reproductive health access will impact women in our community.