The supporters of this resolution in no way support abortions of girls or boys based on their sex. Rather, we believe that sex-selective abortion bans encourage racial profiling of women by some medical providers, cause the denial of reproductive health care services to women, and lead to further stigmatization of women, particularly Asian American women.
Sex-selective abortion bans sound well-intentioned, but are part of a broader strategy to chip away at a woman’s constitutional right to choose. Sex-selective abortion bans were the second-most-common abortion restrictions proposed last year. Legislators who have put forward these bans claim that Asian American parents in particular practice cultural norms that favor the lives of baby boys over baby girls.
Consider what can happen in a state with a sex-selective abortion ban. Out of fear of being criminalized, doctors could scrutinize the decisions of Asian American women in ways other women are not subject to, and possibly even deny them care. For a woman with a language barrier in states where this is the law, a simple misunderstanding can result in denial of care.
A preference for boys is a real challenge in some countries, but one cannot promote women’s equality by restricting women’s rights. Son preference is a symptom of deeply rooted gender inequality. The preference for sons generally stems from the social and economic status of men, family inheritances’ being passed on through male children, and one-child policies. The real solution would be getting to the root of the problem — gender inequality — with measures shown to increase the social standing of women. These include health care access, pay equity and ending violence against women — all priorities that the legislators behind these abortion bans consistently reject.
The reality is that sex-selective abortions are not happening widely in the United States. In June, University of Chicago Law School researchers — in partnership with the National Asian Pacific American Women‘s Forum and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health — released a report that identified the myths that have been used to advance the anti-abortion agenda. From legislative testimony to media coverage, these myths have been used to pass harmful legislation, and now they have been formally debunked.
Using racial stereotyping to further a political agenda of stopping access to abortion is harmful and should be firmly rejected. Even those who have personal disagreements about abortion should be able to find common ground on this topic.
The supervisors who vote in favor of the resolution Tuesday will be supporting women’s rights and health. San Francisco will become the first city to take a bold stand against these discriminatory campaigns and for women’s civil and human rights. We are proud to be a part of this historic moment.
Miriam Yeung is the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. David Chiu is president of the Board of Supervisors.
We’re glad to have your support!]]>
September 9, 2014
Contact: Lyndsay Christian, firstname.lastname@example.org / 212.255.2575
Board President David Chiu to announce resolution prohibiting abortion bans that promote racial stereotypes about Asian Americans and restrict women’s access to health care
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum will endorse the resolution to oppose the “wolf in sheep’s’ clothing” abortion ban.
NEW YORK — San Francisco City Council Board of Supervisors President, David Chiu, will introduce a resolution condemning “sex-selective abortion bans” for discriminating against Asian American women and restricting access to reproductive health. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) will announce its support for the resolution at the press conference. A vote on the resolution is scheduled for Sept. 16.
WHAT: Press conference to introduce resolution that opposes sex-selective abortion
bans and racial discrimination against Asian Americans.
WHEN Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: City Hall, Room 278, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA
WHO: San Francisco Board of Supervisors President, David Chiu, to introduce
“The rhetoric used by legislators advocating these measures is perpetuating racial stereotypes, is deeply offensive and can lead to the denial of health care services to women,” said President Chiu, “No woman should ever be scrutinized by her doctor based on her racial or ethnic background, but this is exactly what a sex-selective abortion ban encourages”.
This resolution will be the first of its kind nationwide to proactively oppose sex selective abortion bans,which was the second most-proposed state restriction on abortion last year. Twenty-one states and the United States Congress have proposed such bans, and eight states have succeeded in enacting them.
This past May, University of Chicago Law School researchers — in partnership with NAPAWF and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) — released a groundbreaking report that debunks the myths used to promote these laws.
“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum is representing thousands of Asian American women in the fight against anti-abortion legislation that promotes stigma and discrimination aimed at our community,” said Miriam Yeung, NAPAWF executive director. “The real goal of this legislation is banning all abortions. Asian Americans are being used for the conservative agenda and turned into collateral damage. No woman should ever be scrutinized or interrogated by her doctor based on cultural background, and that is what these bans promote.” Yeung notes that such policies interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, undermining health care and increasing health disparities.
Asian Americans comprise 33.3 percent of San Francisco’s population, and are the fastest-growing racial group in the country. Passing these ‘sex-selective abortion bans’ perpetuate negative and false stereotypes about Asian Americans.
“As an Asian American, a mother of 2 daughters, and a physician, I feel that sex-selective abortion bans will result in racial discrimination and racial profiling when it comes to provision of reproductive health care services, and that they hurt the doctor/patient relationship,” said Dr. Sophia Yen, Adolescent Medicine Specialist and Pediatrician. These laws just place another unnecessary burden on those who provide abortion and the women who seek those services. Sex-selective abortion bans do nothing to address the root cause of sexism.”
A broad group of women’s rights, health, and civil rights organizations endorse the resolution: ACCESS, ACLU of California, Backline, Center on Reproductive Rights and Justice, Ibis, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Law Students for Reproductive Justice – UC Davis, NARAL California, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Trust Women – Silver Ribbon Campaign, Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA), Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, Asian American Women Artists Association, Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence, Asian Law Caucus, Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Asian Women’s Shelter, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Community Health for Asian Americans, Forward Together, Maitri and Narika.
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF): NAPAWF is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing, and policy advocacy organization for Asian and Pacific Islander women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement]]>
San Francisco would become the first jurisdiction in the country to go on record opposing sex-selective abortion bans if a resolution stating they perpetuate racial stereotypes, being introduced by Supervisor David Chiu today, is adopted by the Board of Supervisors.
Sex-selective abortion bans prohibit terminating a pregnancy on the basis of sex, and doctors who perform such abortions can face fines, jail time or lawsuits. The bans “encourage racial profiling of women by some medical providers,” according to Chiu’s resolution, and can lead to women being denied services.
“Lawmakers across the country have successfully advocated for sex-selective abortion bans by perpetuating false and harmful racial stereotypes that such laws are necessary to stop an influx of Asian immigrants from spreading this practice, and that Asian American communities do not value the lives of women,” states the resolution, which Chiu will announce at City Hall today.
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum has been fighting sex-selective abortion bans since 2008, when such legislation was first introduced in Congress by Arizona Republican Trent Franks. After failing to pass three times in the House of Representatives and once in the Senate, the legislation took flight in individual states and has become a growing trend, said Shivana Jorawar, the nonprofit’s reproductive justice program director.
Sex-selective abortion bans have been introduced in 21 states and passed in eight and became the second-most proposed abortion ban in the country last year.
The nonprofit has been bringing Asian-American women to speak against the ban in states where the issue arises. The group, which co-authored a report in June to debunk myths around sex-selective abortions, then reached out to Chiu to propose a resolution because San Francisco is the home to a large Asian-American population.
“We wanted to do this on our terms, our own narrative and we didn’t want to continue fighting the legislation in a way where we were only responding to the anti-choice rhetoric,” Jorawar said.
The ban “reiterates some of the stereotypes that Asian women don’t value their daughters at some level,” posing concerns around gender equity, added Jenny Lam, director of programs for the San Francisco-based organization Chinese for Affirmative Action.
Chiu said he decided to introduce the resolution in light of the bans in other states as well as its recent introduction in California in May.
“This is to educate the public and states around the country about how pernicious this policy would be,” he said. “And how this policy could lead to the denial of health care services to women and really stigmatize immigrant women in particular.”]]>
September 8, 2014
Contact: Lyndsay Christian, Lyndsay@caminopr.com / 212.255.2575
NAPAWF denounces Obama’s decision to delay administrative relief for immigrants
Delay on administrative action hurts Asian American and Pacific Islander women and families
WASHINGTON — In response to President Barack Obama’s decision to postpone executive action on immigration until after the midterm actions, Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF, released the following statement:
“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is deeply disappointed in the Obama administration’s decision to delay administrative action on immigration reform. While political pressure seems to have prevailed over humane and commonsense immigration policies, millions of men and women throughout the country are left with broken promises.
“Current immigration policies marginalize immigrant women, perpetuate an environment of fear, and break up families. These deeply flawed immigration policies and enforcement practices prevent communities from thriving.
“Asian Americans constitute 27.7 percent of the country’s immigrant population and are the fastest growing minority group in the nation. Asian American communities suffer the longest separations from their families due to visa backlogs.
“Over half, 52.9 percent, of Asian immigrants are women. Immigrant women are the backbones of our families and drivers of decision-making in our households, and were a deciding vote in the last presidential election.
“As millions of lives hang in the balance, NAPAWF urges the President to reconsider his delay. We are ready to mobilize and advocate for immigration laws that advance immigrant women and girls’ rights and further strengthen our communities. NAPAWF believes that a comprehensive immigration policy reform plan needs to be inclusive, fair, and representative of the unique needs of immigrant AAPI women and their families. NAPAWF will work tirelessly to ensure that these communities will no longer have to wait for just and humane policies.”
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only national, multi-issue Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women’s organization in the country. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for AAPI women and girls.]]>
September 3, 2014
Contact: Lyndsay Christian, Lyndsay@caminopr.com / 212.255.2575
Jenny Yang appointed as first Asian American EEOC Chair
WASHINGTON – In response to President Barack Obama’s appointment of longtime National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) member and leader Jenny Yang to chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF, released the following statement:
“We applaud President Obama for appointing Jenny Yang to lead the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Yang has dedicated her life to fighting for equality. As a dedicated member of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Yang has shown exemplary leadership in advancing the rights of Asian American and Pacific Islander women. She is keenly aware of the obstacles to equality, which makes her exceptionally qualified to take this important post. Yang’s talent and expertise will benefit all American workers, as she leads the charge to end discrimination in workplaces across the country.”
The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only national, multi-issue Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women’s organization in the country. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for AAPI women and girls.]]>
Click here for original article link.
WASHINGTON, DC – Filipino American Christine Poquiz was among the 150 immigrant rights activists, elected officials, labor and religious leaders arrested in front of the White House on August 29, asking President Obama to provide relief to families and immigrant workers as part of his announced review of U.S. immigration policies.
Poquiz and a dozen other Filipino American activists marched with more than 1,000 protesters to the White House where they staged the largest civil disobedience protest in immigrant rights history.
“Filipinos are disproportionately impacted by the long waiting periods for family members to be reunited,” said the 30-year-old activist from San Diego, California, who’s a Reproductive Justice Fellow at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).
“The Philippines has the longest waiting time of any country because of the outdated visa system in the U.S. Some of us have been waiting over 20 years,” Poquiz explained.
Before marching to the White House, the demonstrators led by Casa of Maryland and Casa of Virginia – two leading immigrant rights advocacy groups – rallied in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) headquarters in Washington, DC.
Among the participants were children who wore T-shirts that pleaded: “Don’t Deport My Mom.” Speakers took turns lambasting the Republicans for their inaction.
Relief from deportations
They also prayed for Obama to reverse his immigration policies before deportations during his administration reach two million, which would surpass the number of deportations that occurred under President George W. Bush.
Ben de Guzman, co-director for programs at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), was among dozens of Asian Pacific Americans also at the rally. “With President Obama inching closer and closer to his self-imposed timeline of the end of the summer to announce executive action he will take on immigration, every opportunity we take now to call for the change we need becomes ever more important,” he said.
De Guzman added: “Filipinos have a stake in this fight to fix our broken immigration system and the changes that we are calling for will keep families together. LGBT Filipinos know all too well that the 11 million undocumented need relief as well. Jose Antonio Vargas is well known, but the LGBT undocumented population is disproportionately Asian, and his story is more the norm in our community than we might want to admit.”
Immigration advocates have been pressuring Obama to use his executive powers to protect many of the 11.7 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S. from deportation.
Obama did just that for undocumented young immigrants when he announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012. The program allows undocumented youth to stay and work in the U.S.
‘Not your model minority’
With banners and signs urging Obama to “Stop the Deportations,” most of the demonstrators gathered for the noontime rally at Lafayette Park across the President’s residence while a smaller group sat near the White House fence chanting “No Justice! No Peace!” and “Si Se Puede” (“Yes We Can”).
Defying orders to move out of the area, the protestors were taken one by one by Park Police, handcuffed and brought in vans and buses to a detention facility outside the city. Released five hours later, each paid a $50 fine for holding an unlawful demonstration.
Poquiz, who was wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Not Your Model Minority,” was among the first to be arrested and booked. “I volunteered to participate in this mass action because it is very important to me that we highlight the fact that Filipinos are adversely affected by our nation’s broken immigration system,” she said. “We need to speak up.”
Noting a lack of active engagement on this issue in the Filipino American community, the US-born daughter of immigrant parents from the Philippines said political education is needed to heighten awareness and move people to act. “We cannot afford to be indifferent while families are being separated and unjust immigration laws are destroying our communities.”
Poquiz was also worried that “many Filipina women work in the home as domestic caregivers where they are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Domestic caregivers face an additional barrier because it doesn’t count towards eligibility for citizenship the way other work does. We want the President to immediately address these two issues.”
First act of civil disobedience
Although this was her first act of civil disobedience, Poquiz had participated in several protest actions in the past, including a fast for immigrant women. “I know I’m very privileged to be able to participate in this civil disobedience and being safely detained and released in the same day. This is not close to the experiences of others from detention facilities to the protests happening in Ferguson.”
She added: “. At the end of the day it was an amazing experience to go through with my brothers and sisters in the struggle, particularly all the fierce AAPI women who got arrested along side me.”
Other APA groups participating in the event, billed as “National Day to Fight for Families,” include the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).
As Asian American women organizing in Chicago, we have seen ourselves, our broader communities, and fellow feminist and AAPI organizations alike, stand on the sidelines for too long as anti-Black racism and its deadly results unfold relentlessly in our city and country. Only hours ago, yet another Chicago teen was killed at the hands of police on Chicago’s west side, as Mike Brown’s loved ones prepared for their unarmed, 18-year-old son’s funeral.
We are far from alone on these sidelines, apparent in many non-Black communities of color for a multiplicity reasons: the most contemptible being the anti-Black racism which indeed runs through sections of our communities, the most challenging being the all-consuming struggle of survival of many caught between deportation, un-documentation, poverty, and refugee trauma.
But, while the City may segregate our communities, and while the media may attempt to place in separate silos our issues—we choose to take responsibility in this moment to definitively refuse and intentionally overcome both as false constructs. And, we call on any who stand against racism, police brutality, and state surveillance; and those who stand for reproductive justice and civil rights—to do likewise.
We honor the life of Mike Brown, extend our sympathy to his family, and support the courageous people of Ferguson by honoring the family’s request that today, the day of their son’s funeral, be a day without protest. Moreover, we dismiss the position of passive support and quiet racial justice debates prevalent within our community—for an unequivocal, active support of initiatives led by Black organizers, and targeted Black youth in particular, to resist police violence.
In reporting instances of police abuse; and in donations, dollars, organizing hours, and/or signal boosting promotion, we urge all Chicagoans reading to learn about, follow, and support local initiatives:
To support Black youth resisting police violence in Chicago and across the country:
To support Michael Brown’s family and Ferguson community organizing:
As Chicago women, we remember Rekia Boyd, an unarmed 22-year-old Black woman shot and killed by a police officer on Chicago’s North Lawndale west side neighborhood in 2012—less than a month after the murder of Trayvon Martin. We remember all women like her, and also Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old Black woman shot and killed in Michigan while simply asking for help. We commit as well to supporting all survivors of police sexual assault, and physical violence, just as our community recently supported Jessica Klyzek, a Chinese-American assaulted at the hands of vice-squad police.
As women of color feminists, we stand in the history and struggle for Reproductive Justice, described by Sister Song, a women of color collective, as “[The] right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments—based on the human right to make personal decisions about one’s life, and the obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions.” We support Mike Brown’s family and countless other Black and Brown families robbed of this right of safety for their children—just as we support the right of immigrant families to be together regardless of unjust laws imposed by America’s failed immigration policies and deportation/detention machine, which is beginning to mirror the prison industrial complex that has long destroyed the fabric of countless Black families, and Black communities.
As those who stand for a society inclusive of mental health disabilities, we are appalled at the growing list of police killings taking place mere moments after interaction with those exhibiting so-called “erratic” behavior—most recently laid bare in the Los Angeles police shooting of Ezell Ford, a young Black men with schizophrenia who police shot in the back three times while laying face down in handcuffs, and Kajieme Powell who staggered towards St. Louis police with clear symptoms of mental illness, and a knife. He was quickly shot nine times, then handcuffed while already dead or dying. We are of the millions of American families with loved ones with mental illnesses, and extend our sympathy and support likewise to the families of Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, and all those whose loved ones’ need for care was met by deadly police violence.
As Asian Americans, we are from a widely-varied community in which there are many different relationships to power: from South Asian Americans targeted by post-9/11 Stop-and-Frisk policy, and new immigrants who are poor, vulnerable to abuse, and undocumented—to Asian Americans who attempt assimilation into whiteness, as well as those who work destructively in concert with police and institutions of power. In the words of writer Soya Jung, “We are either left or right of the color line. There is no sitting that out… Our options are invisibility, complicity, or resistance.”
We choose resistance,
Sarah Macaraeg, Leakhena Yoeun, Pingjing Zou, and Karin Lee
Co-chairs, NAPAWF Chicago
@seramak, @lyk_yoeun, @ich134
Organizations and individuals let us know if you hear us, tweet @napawfchicago:
#BlackLivesMatter #WeChooseResistance #IChooseResistance
Image credits (l-r): Shivana Jorawar, Twitter, Ric Wilson]]>
I have three children. I chose not to have an abortion because I knew I could provide my children with a safe home and loving environment. The fact that “Minnesota abortions continue to decline,” as the July 3 St. Cloud Times article put it, should not be credited to anti-choice policies.
Such policies do not lessen the number of abortions. They only lessen the number of safe and legal abortions. Women will find a way to control their own lives, as they did in dangerous numbers before 1973.
I look forward to a day when abortions are no longer necessary because all women and children are respected and valued. A step toward that journey is access to the full range of reproductive health care.
As an Asian-American woman, I may face obstacles to access because of deceptive and misguided laws based on racial stereotypes. In eight states, politicians have created laws that assume Asian-American women choose abortion because they do not want girl children. The laws criminalize doctors who perform “sex selective abortions” despite no evidence of abortion for son preference being a problem in the United States.
During legislative debates in South Dakota, the vice president of South Dakota Right to Life suggested that Asian Americans in South Dakota are “from ethnic backgrounds that are known to practice sex selection.”
Although it has not yet happened in Minnesota, the bill was introduced here in 2009 and neighboring states are perpetuating these racist stereotypes. They further claim they are doing this for women’s rights while they are themselves undermining women’s constitutional rights.
The voting records of politicians behind these laws have never been in favor of women or people of color. This is simply a clever ruse.
In the state and federal arenas, politicians who support the sex selection abortion ban are at the forefront of the movement to make abortion illegal. For example, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a vocal supporter of the federal bill that would ban sex-selective abortion, also supports bills that would prohibit federal funding for abortion services and groups such as Planned Parenthood.
As part of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, I am privileged to have access to research from credible sources. A new publication “Replacing myths with facts: Sex-selective abortion laws in the United States” does just that. It dispels misinformation and racial assumptions.
Data does show there are male-biased sex ratios (more boys than girls) in China and India. This has led to organizations that work hard on changing the systemic devaluation of women and girls. However, the social and political conditions here in the U.S. are vastly different.
Data show that foreign-born Chinese and Indian (from India) families in the U.S. have more girls on average than whites.
In fact, the sex ratio (number of males per 1,000 females) of all Asian-Americans are within the standard range, and it is white families that have more boys than girls.
The 2012 National Asian American Survey of Asian Americans posed the question: “If, for whatever reason, you could only have one child, would you want it to be a boy, a girl, or does it not matter?” Ninety-two percent of Chinese and Indians in America did not have a gender preference.
Why then stereotype Asian women in America?
Even if they are not seeking sex selective abortions, these negative messages can lead to the denial of needed health care services for Asian-American women.
Is sex selection really at the heart of this controversial issue? Other methods such as artificial insemination, sperm sorting and preimplantation genetic diagnosis can control the gender of the fetus. However, no laws prohibit sex selection prior to conception or implantation.
I do not support the practice of sex selection in any form. However, it is obvious that the laws banning sex-selective abortions in the United States actually perpetuate racial and gender discrimination and is a deceptive strategy by legislators who support an anti-choice platform.
Click Here for St. Cloud Times Posting of Article.
During the month of June, we celebrated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. 45 years after Stonewall, we honor the contributions of LGBT people to our communities. Our partners at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) worked with the Asian Pride Project to develop a series of multilingual Public Service Announcements (PSA) on AAPI parents who love their LGBTQ children.
On June 27, exactly one year since the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, advocates from the We Belong Together campaign, co-led by NAPAWF, delivered over 7500 signed pledges demanding comprehensive immigration reform to six Republican Congressional members: Representatives Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Candice Miller (R-MI), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), and House Speaker John Boehner.
On June 30, President Obama addressed the country regarding the current state of immigration reform and the humanitarian crisis of over 50,000 child refugees fleeing violence in Central America. He has directed DHS Secretary Johnson and Attorney General Holder to identify administrative actions that can be taken to try to fix as much of the immigration system as possible on his own by September. “If Congress will not do their job, at least we can do ours,” the President said. He did not allude to any provisions for increased protections for any detainees. Regarding the humanitarian crisis, President Obama has asked Congress for 3.7 billion dollars to increase funding for ICE, Border Patrol, Health & Human Services, Dept. of State, and Dept. of Justice, with very little funding allocated to provide legal representation to handle asylum cases for the women and children crossing the border. Meanwhile, the United Nations is urging the Administration to recognize the child migrants as refugees in need of “international protection” over deportation. We Belong Together, co-led by NAPAWF, calls on President Obama to support efforts for family reunification by providing the broadest relief possiblefor both the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. and the incoming women and children refugees seeking safety.
The United States Supreme Court issued a number of decisions in June that severely affect immigrant communities and AAPI women’s economic and reproductive security. We highlight some of those cases in this month’s AP(eye) on the Hill newsletter.
On June 30th, The United States Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision was a stunning blow to women’s ability to access healthcare. The Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that a craft supply company is allowed to deny workers basic contraception coverage because of the company’s religious beliefs. This decision is an affront to all women that opens the door to more denials based on religious belief. Read reflections on this decision from our Executive Director, Miriam Yeung, here.
In part due to the high cost of contraception, AAPI women already have low rates of contraception use. The Court’s decision is an affront to all women and yet another barrier to AAPI women who already face significant health disparities and obstacles to insurance coverage. The Court’s decision is a dangerous setback for women’s health and economic security.
Employers shouldn’t get special treatment to get out of complying with the law just because they don’t want to give their employees birth-control coverage. The choice about whether to use birth control, or any health care service, should be between a woman and her doctor — and no employer should be able to take away that right. Furthermore, Justice Ginsburg’s scathing 35-page dissent, talks about the slippery slope of this case and how it can be used to deny other medical services like blood transfusions, vaccinations, and other services based on religion. There is also the very real threat of employers denying employment to LGBTQ workers.
On July 3rd, soon after the Hobby Lobby ruling, Wheaton College, a religiously-affiliated non-profit college in Illinois who is already excused from the contraceptive mandate requirement, filed an injunction request with the Supreme Court stating that the form they need to fill out to opt out of the contraceptive mandate requirement was a burden on their exercise of religion. The Supreme Court granted an emergency injunction to Wheaton with Justice Sotomayor, Kagan and Ginsburg dissenting. The slippery slope, despite denial from the majority opinion in Hobby Lobby, is definitely descending.
On July 9th, in an attempt to rectify the Hobby Lobby decision, pro-choice leaders in Congress introduced a bill called the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act, or “The Not My Boss’ Business Act.” This bill would ensure that employers cannot refuse to cover health services guaranteed under federal law, which all employees have a right to access. The bill states that employers’ responsibility to provide healthcare for their workers under the Affordable Care Act cannot be infringed upon by any other bill, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, under which the Hobby Lobby case was filed. We are severely disappointed that on July 16, 2014, the Senate failed to pass the bill. The bill received bipartisan support of 56 Senators, but failed to get the necessary 60 votes to move forward. House Republicans also blocked the bill with a procedural vote.
On June 26, in the case McCullen v. Coakley, the Supreme Court unanimously struck down Massachusetts’ buffer zone law which protected women from anti-abortion harassment at health clinics. The 35-feet buffer zone has been in place for seven years as a result of a Massachusetts law that helped protect those seeking healthcare from protestors. Under the guise of the 1st amendment to freedom of speech, anti-abortion activists are now able to stand as close as they want to patients on public sidewalks, as they enter and exit health clinics. These activists have a history of violence, physical and emotional, toward patients and providers. This ruling is another setback for women who need abortion care, especially those within the AAPI community. AAPI women already face many barriers to health care access, and also have high rates of depression. The bullying protesters inflict on women on the way to a clinic can only do more harm to a woman’s wellbeing.
In a 5-4 ruling, in the case Scialabba v Cuellar de Osorio, the Supreme Court ruled that children who turn 21 during their visa application process to immigrate to the United States must reapply for their visas as adults. Children would lose their places in line and may be prohibited from reuniting with their families. For AAPI immigrants, this may mean an additional wait of 11-23 more years. This verdict does nothing to help the thousands of Asian-American immigrants who are already struggling with enormous visa backlogs. Previously, the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) was passed to help children convert their applications into adult visa applications, without losing their place in line. Although a bipartisan group of legislators submitted an amicus brief explaining the purpose and intent of CSPA, the Court decided the law was too confusing and could be interpreted in contradictory ways. The decision means that immigrants will not be granted any leniency when dealing with the government’s bureaucratic, slow processing that continues to break up families who attempt to navigate the United States’ broken immigration system.
In Harris v Quinn, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that non-union employees are not required to pay union fees that were incurred when said union was bargaining on their behalf. This deals a blow to unions’ efforts to organize the many workers who provide home-based services, financed by the state, to the elderly and persons with disabilities. Organizing home care workers has occurred over the past 30 years and has reached success in combating exploitation and fighting for fair wages. Domestic workers play a critical and important role in the home, but because they work behind closed doors, this isolation makes them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Almost 90% of home care workers are women and almost half are women of color. Without the funds to bargain for better conditions and wages, women of color’s collective power is reduced.
On June 23, the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Department of Labor, and the Center for American Progress held a Summit on Working Families, which NAPAWF’S Executive Director, Miriam Yeung, attended. President Obama spoke on the needs for workplace flexibility, a raise in minimum wage, affordable childcare, paid family leave, pay equality, and protection and support for pregnant workers—defining them as “commonsense” issues.
A report from the Center of American Progress shows that between 1997 and 2013, businesses owned by women grew by 59 percent, a number that is one and a half times the national average. Women of color drove this growth and constitute one-third of all U.S. women-owned firms, despite facing numerous entrepreneurial obstacles, like accessing capital or bank loans. In those 15+ years, Asian American women-owned businesses grew by 156 percent, while Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women-owned businesses grew by 216 percent, making up a total of 620,300 AAPI female-owned businesses in 2013.
Despite these advances, 45.5% of Asian-American women still do not have access to paid sick leave and, on average, Asian-American women with bachelor degrees earn $10,840 less than their Asian-American male counterparts and $11,354 less than white males with bachelor degrees. In general, the United States lags behind most other countries in establishing policies that protect and enhance quality of life for all working families.
On June 26, a district judge in Indiana struck down a ban on same-sex marriage, declaring it unconstitutional under the 14th amendment guarantee of equal protection and due process. However, the order was put on hold two days later, as Indiana’s Attorney General appealed to the7th Circuit Court of Appeals. 120 same-sex marriage licenses were granted in the interim. In Utah, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, found Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Almost 1700 couples were married last year after the initial ban was struck down under the district court, before a stay was put in place.
On July 1, a federal judge in Kentucky ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, saying, “assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree.” This makes Kentucky the eleventh state to be in the process of appeal after a pro-same-sex marriage ruling.
The AAPI population is growing significantly in these states; from 2000 to 2010, AAPIs grew by 74% in Indiana, 60% in Utah and 67% in Kentucky.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights into law on July 2. The act amends state law to include protections for domestic workers, including nannies and housekeepers, like 24 hours off per 7-day calendar week and 48 hours off per month; meal and rest breaks; maternity leave and more. Domestic workers also receive official recognition from the commonwealth and are eligible for benefits like unemployment compensation and guaranteed minimum wage. With this law, Massachusetts becomes the fourth state with protections for domestic workers, joining California, New York, and Hawaii. This is a huge victory for the over 60,000 domestic workers of Massachusetts, most of whom are women of color including the 17% of Asian Americans who work in service fields including domestic work.
The California State Senate unanimously passed resolutions seeking to amend past wrong-doings against Chinese-Americans. Senate Concurrent Resolution 122 apologizes for past anti-Chinese Californian legislation and policies that oppressed the Chinese American community. Senate Joint Resolution 23 calls for Congress to issue a formal apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Congress has formally issued a resolution of regret, but Chinese-American advocates and allies insist this is not bold enough. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first federal immigration law restricting a specific group’s immigration to this country on the basis of race and nationality. The resolutions have been sent to the California State Assembly and are awaiting further action.
California State Senator Ricardo Lara’s bill, the Health for All Act, which would provide health care coverage for all Californians, regardless of documentation status, died in committee. Senator Lara introduced the bill in hopes of addressing the gaps created by the Affordable Care Act, which has left an estimated three to four million people without insurance, one million of which are undocumented immigrants (of an estimated total 2.3 million undocumented immigrants in the state) and therefore ineligible for coverage. California has the largest AAPI population in the U.S., with over 4 million Asian-Americans and a growth rate of 34% from 2000 to 2010. This act would provide thousands of AAPI people the coverage and care they are currently unable to attain.
New York City council voted June 26 to create municipal identification cards for all residents of the city, regardless of documentation status. The $8 million program, a facet of Mayor Bill deBlasio’s election campaign, allows for an estimated 500,000 undocumented immigrants to access numerous services that may previously have been unattainable, including opening bank accounts, signing leases, and more. The council approved the measure 43-3, a move also endorsed by the NYPD.
The Council also voted to expand a program that gives immigrants facing deportation free legal counsel. Previously, studies showed that 67 percent of detained immigrants go to court without a lawyer as they cannot afford one, and only 3 percent are successful representing themselves. The New York Immigrant Family Unity Project proved extremely successful in its year-long trial run and is set to provide legal representation for another 1,380 detained immigrants with the $4.9 million newly earmarked by the city.]]>