From April 7-9, 100 women, including NAPAWF staff and members, fasted for 48 hours on the National Mall as part of the We Belong Together campaign, co-led by NAPAWF. By giving up food, we aimed to feed the courage of Congress to pass immigration reform and of the President to stop deportations. This ended the month-long Women’s Fast for Families, where over 1500 women fasted across the country. Congressional women leaders, a representative from the Department of Homeland Security, and White House senior officials Valerie Jarrett and Cecilia Munoz visited our tent to hear our demands and show support. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) even fasted with us! These powerful women, including many currently facing deportation proceedings, delivered “hearts of courage” to Speaker Boehner and House Leaders Rep. McCarthy and Rep. Cantor to send them the courage to pass immigration policy reform that keeps families together and meets the needs of women.
While advocates have been trying to restore federal funding of Medicaid for COFA migrants, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the state is not required to fund Medicaid for migrants from island nations in Micronesia including the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.
The case arose after Hawaii shifted COFA migrants who were previously eligible for full-scope Medicaid in the state to the more limited Basic Health Hawaii (BHH) program.
The 56,000 COFA migrants residing in the U.S. have a special status under U.S. law and are allowed to freely travel, reside and work in the U.S. as tax paying residents. As a result of U.S. nuclear testing and poor health care in their home countries, many COFA migrants experience grave illnesses, including diabetes, cancer and reproductive anomalies. In 1996, changes to federal law made COFA migrants ineligible for Medicaid and states have filled the gap by providing coverage themselves.
NAPAWF is extremely concerned about this decision and sees it as clearly demonstrating the need for Congress to act. Rep. Hanabusa and Sen. Hirono have introduced measures to restore access to health programs for COFA migrants in the past and, most recently, Rep. Lujan-Grisham introduced the Health Equity and Access under the Law (HEAL) Immigrant Women and Families Act which, among other improvements, would restore coverage for COFA migrants.
On April 10th, the Tennessee state legislature passed an extreme bill that allows women to be charged with assault if they have a pregnancy complication after using illegal drugs.
Tennessee is the first state in the nation to successfully pass a law like this, allowing for the criminal prosecution of pregnant women based on pregnancy outcome. Any woman who gives birth to a baby with health problems, or who loses a pregnancy at any stage, could be subject to criminal investigation.
Criminalizing mothers is bad for babies. As every leading medical group to address this issue has concluded, such laws will deter women from what care is available, create incentives for unwanted abortions by women who cannot guarantee healthy birth outcomes, and will not increase access to treatment.
Furthermore this law is unconstitutional, creating separate and unequal laws for women who become pregnant, and irrationally threatening arrest rather than providing support and treatment. The repercussions of this type of law can be far reaching. For example, in Indiana, Bei Bei Shuai, a young immigrant from China, attempted suicide while she was pregnant. She was then charged with first degree murder of a viable fetus and attempted feticide. Bei Bei, who had a mental health condition, was found guilty
On April 14th, Minnesota passed a law raising the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 by the year 2016. It’s current minimum wage of $6.15 per hour, one of the lowest in the country, will rise by more than $3 gradually over the next few years, after which it will be tied to inflation. Minnesota has one of the highest numbers of Hmong residents in the country, many of whom will benefit from this law. Minnesota joins states like Connecticut and Maryland in passing minimum wage legislation, as the effort to increase the federal minimum wage—currently $7.25 per hour—remains stalled in Congress.
On March 15th, President Obama called to enforce immigration laws “more humanely.” The Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, is currently reviewing the department’s deportation practices.
The Obama administration has deported nearly 2 million people – two-thirds of whom had no criminal record or had committed minor offenses, such as traffic violations. On April 14th, Johnson stated that revised deportation efforts would be aimed chiefly at those who pose a danger to public safety and national security.
On March 25th the Supreme Court heard arguments on two historic cases that pit religious beliefs of employers against women’s access to birth control. NAPAWF joined hundreds of women rallying in front of the Court, braving the snow and cold wind, to speak out against bosses dictating whether women can get the health care they need.
In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, employers at a craft store and a cabinet maker are arguing they should be exempt from having to offer insurance coverage for birth control without a co-pay, a requirement of the Affordable Care Act, because of their personal religious beliefs.
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women already face significant health disparities and barriers to health insurance. Additionally, due to cultural taboos and the high cost of contraception, we have low rates of contraception use. NAPAWF joined other AAPI organizations and organizations representing communities of color in signing on to the National Health Law Program’s amicus brief on the impact of this case on low income women and women of color.
The New York State Legislature is considering legislation that would prohibit bosses from discriminating against their employees on the basis of their reproductive health care decisions, including their decision to use birth control. After the Hobby Lobby case reached the Supreme Court, Legislators saw the need to be proactive to protect women’s health.
New York State has one of the largest AAPI populations in the country, with over 1.4 million AAPIs residing in the State.
On March 26th, House Democratic leadership introduced a discharge petition, a procedural process that would force their immigration bill, H.R. 15, to the floor for a vote. House leadership has refused to consider any type of comprehensive immigration bill while the Senate passed their bill over 8 months ago. NAPAWF supports the “demand a vote” petition and is also calling on the President to end deportations. Advocates for immigration reform are still optimistic that immigration reform can still happen this year and we’re continuing our fight!
NAPAWF held our annual leadership PowerUp! Summit March 15-17th. Eighty NAPAWF sisters from across the country and our Minnesota Young Women’s Collaborative came together and shared stories, nurtured sisterhood, and strengthened leadership. We participated and led workshops that honed our community organizing and policy advocacy skills on issues central to AAPI women – reproductive justice and immigration. Although our annual advocacy day was cancelled because of the snowstorm, it didn’t slow us down! We staged sit-ins and practiced civil disobedience. Overall, the summit was inspiring and powerful—we all left feeling more ready to make our voices heard.
In March, we celebrated Rep. Lujan-Grisham (D-NM) introducing the Health Equity and Accountability under the Law (HEAL) for Immigrant Women and Families Act. This legislation would remove political interference so immigrants can participate in the health care programs their tax dollars support.
Over half of all immigrants are women and, today, these women are mostly coming from Asian countries. AAPI women face barriers to accessing affordable and preventative health care which causes many health disparities. Vietnamese women have the highest rate of cervical cancer and, for them, the current 5 year ban on accessing Medicaid can mean the difference between life and death. The HEAL Immigrant Women and Families Act would restore access to coverage and allow immigrant women and families to receive the health care they need.
Click here to thank Rep. Lujan-Grisham for championing the HEAL for Immigrant Women and Families Act!
On March 10th, the South Dakota Legislature passed an anti-Asian abortion ban. House legislators were blatant in their xenophobia and anti-immigrant fear mongering, citing that Asians were the reason they had to pass such a law. Their real motive is chipping away at abortion rights. This is the worst measure of it’s kind, requiring doctors to explicitly ask a woman whether she is having an abortion based on the sex of the pregnancy. NAPAWF Reproductive Justice Program Director, Shivana Jorawar, and University of South Dakota student, Lena Tran, testified in opposition to the bill on March 3rd. South Dakota is the 8th state to pass such a measure.
Virginia and Rhode Island also recently attempted to pass anti-Asian abortion bans, and fierce NAPAWF sisters spoke out against them. On March 11th, Brown student and NAPAWF’s summer intern, Juhee Kwon, testified before Rhode Island legislators and, on February 5th, NAPAWF RJ Fellow Christine Poquiz testified in the Virginia House of Delegates. We were able to defeat both bills early on.
In March, the ACLU submitted its appeal brief on behalf of NAPAWF and the NAACP to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals regarding our Race and Sex selective abortion ban case against Arizona. Community partners, led by Advancing Justice I AAJC and the Asian Pacific Islander American Health Forum, filed an amicus brief on the harms this law has on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Arizona’s race and sex selective abortion ban exploits racial stereotypes and encourages racial profiling by pushing doctors to assume AAPI women are seeking abortions because of the sex of the fetus. Threatening providers with criminal and civil penalties also has a chilling effect; it can mean providers are less likely to serve us. The lawsuit focuses on the harmful stigmatization this type of legislation would cause for our community.
>On February 26, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062, legislation that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against individuals who identify as LGBT. Supporters of the bill did not hide the fact that this bill targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. SB 1062 would have undercut the non-discrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation passed by several Arizona municipalities. Disturbingly, this is a growing trend among states. States that have considered similar legislation are: Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Missouri, Ohio, and Idaho.
March 31st marked the end of the first enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance exchanges. Over 8 million people signed up for health insurance coverage, which will begin May 1st. National and local AAPI organizations have been working together to enroll uninsured AAPIs and help navigate the system and overcome language and cultural barriers. The ACA has made great strides in making health insurance coverage more accessible and affordable for AAPIs. The ACA also banned “no preexisting conditions” as a requirement for healthcare coverage so having an illness, or being pregnant- which was considered a preexisting condition, would not be a barrier to healthcare. The next enrollment period is scheduled for November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015.]]>
Statement on Ninth Circuit Korab COFA Case 4 16 14 (1)]]>
By Joy Messinger, March 31,2014, The Daily Dot
In comedy, there’s often a fine line between it comes to humor. Timing, language, the identities of the comedian—these can make a perfect joke or signify a terrible threat. So how did last night’s Twitter discussion about The Colbert Show’s misguided satire become open season on Asian women so quickly? And how does the violence of online behavior translate into the institutionalized oppression of offline politics?
It began when The Colbert Report tweeted out a provocative one-liner from one of the show’s segments meant to satirize Dan Snyder’s ignorant and insensitive move to create the “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation,” itself a slap in the face to many individuals, organizations, and Native American/First Nations tribal communities who have long been demanding a change to the Washington football franchise’s name and mascot.
About an hour later, signal booster extraordinaire Suey Park had created and started tweeting #CancelColbertwith a rundown of why the show’s attempt at comedy was not funny. Thousands joined in (including myself) and for the next two hours, #CancelColbert was a national trending topic, eclipsing even the live-tweeters of Scandal. Tweets ranged from a history lesson of anti-Asian violence to those who spoke about why the segment and tweet triggered negative childhood memories.
As expected, white people from all over the Twitterverse also responded, using #CancelColbert to tell Asian Twitter that it was “okay” because he was making fun of Snyder’s unacceptable behavior; this was, after all, coming just weeks after Gawker spinoff Valleywag compared (and then brushed off backlash about) a new Internet dating startup to the mass sex trafficking of Korean “comfort women” during World War II, so I was not surprised.
From there, the responses got uglier. Twitter users started the hashtag #CancelSueyPark, which taken by itself might seem like a sarcastic play on words, but when accompanied with the rape and death threats she was receiving in real time was anything but clever.
I couldn’t bring myself to read through the full barrage of hatred in Suey’s mentions, and that the perceived anonymity of Twitter gives people the license to express sentiments they wouldn’t dare to in a face-to-face interaction.
However personal the attacks though, this is not just about the cyberbullying that Suey or other Asian women (as a fellow Tweeter points out) experienced last night or abuse they continued to receive today. It’s how enforced “harmlessness” of a culture of bullying and marginalization creates an environment in which people feel free to enact and institutionalize this abuse without fear of being held accountable.
Asian Twitter has been labeled as “overly sensitive” and is being told to laugh along with everyone else when in fact, but what gets lost when people are told to simply find the humor achieved at their expense is the fact that one “joke” labeled “satire” is part of a larger cultural acceptance of casual racism and xenophobia. When we decide as a culture that something as “innocuous” as othering Asian people and communities through humor is okay, then we perpetuate a social and political environment where lawmakers can pass policies that use anti-Asian rhetoric as a primary motivation.
What does this look like in practice? This week in South Dakota, Governor Daugaard signed HB 1162, a law specifically targeting Asian women and that seeks to combat sex-selective abortion, which even anti-choice organizers admit is not an identifiable problem. AsColorlines and the Associated Press note, two white male legislators were able to infuse their beliefs and attitudes about Asian women into the bill’s framing and language:
Rep. Don Haggar, R-Sioux Falls, suggested during a House debate that the bill was necessary because of an influx of immigrants to the state. And Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said that he spent 18 years in Asia in the military and believes parts of the world don’t value women as much as he values his daughters.
Instead of promoting reproductive justice, however, HB 1162 strips bodily autonomy and self-determination by scapegoating Asian women in the name of “equality.” Even more disheartening, research from the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) found that more than 60 bills like HB 1162 have been introduced at the state and federal level since 2009 and given this most recent legislative victory, it is unlikely the pace will slow.
It’s not just about a joke that Asian people were supposedto find funny. It’s also about a cyberbullying culture that Asian women are supposed to accept as the price of public engagement and a growing body of legislation that issupposed to help support gender equity, concerns that continue to remain ignored by a media that normalizes that marginalization. It’s easier to silence Asian women than to listen.
So it our humor that needs to evolve or is it the mainstream American culture’s understanding of identity, oppression, and justice? It’s not just that Asians and Asian Americans are demanding legitimacy on Twitter. We are fighting for our humanity in the offline world of our everyday lives.
Joy Messinger is an educator and activist for sexuality, reproductive justice, adoption, queerness, and Asian American feminism. Her writing can also be found at Gazillion Voices, an online magazine by and for adoptees and their allies.
South Dakota’s Ugly New Law Based On Racial Stereotypes About Asian Immigrants
By Tara Culp-Ressler
This week, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) approved an unnecessary abortion restriction that reinforces racial stereotypes about the Asian American community. House Bill 1162 bans abortions based on a fetus’ sex, and makes it a felony for doctors to perform this type of “sex-selective” procedure — based on the misperception that Asian women are more likely to terminate a pregnancy if they find out the fetus is a girl.
The lawmakers who push sex-selective abortion bans typically claim that it’s an important policy to preserve gender equality. And during the debate over HB 1162 in South Dakota, elected officials were particularly candid about the racial implications. As Mother Jones reported last month, Republican lawmakers in the state were very clear about their position that the bill was necessary because of South Dakota’s population of Asian immigrants.
“Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was,” one GOP lawmaker, Rep. Don Haggar, said to explain his support for HB 1162. “There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state. And I think that’s a good thing that we invite them to come, but I think it’s also important that we send a message that this is a state that values life, regardless of its sex.”
In fact, this type of legislation is a solution in search of a problem. While female infanticide is an issue in some parts of the world, there’s absolutely no evidence that the Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) individuals who live here in the U.S. are having abortions based on gender. There is no epidemic of sex-selective abortion among the AAPI community, and passing legislation to “fix” this nonexistent issue simply ends up damaging women of color. Ultimately, these laws scrutinize Asian American women based solely on their race.
South Dakota’s governor has signed a purposefully misleading bill that undermines our health as women and discriminates against us as Asian Americans Miriam Yeung, the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, explained in a statement. “Our community has made it clear we don’t support these misleading, stigmatizing bans that hurt us and only serve to exacerbate the health disparities we already face. Nearly 2,000 women and men from South Dakota and around the country signed a petition condemning the racist legislation.”
Yeung’s organization has been standing up against sex-selective abortion bans for years. But, thanks to draft legislation on the issue written by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, over 60 sex-selective bills have been introduced at the state and federal level since 2009. Aside from South Dakota, seven other states have passed this policy into law.
Nearly 92 percent of all abortions take place before the fetus’ sex can even be determined. Abortion providers have warned that they have no idea how to enforce this type of sex-selective ban in practice.
Read the full story on the Think Progress website here.]]>
March 27, 2014
Contact: Andrea Hagelgans, ahagelgans@
Hypocritical bill creates mistrust between doctors and women
NEW YORK —South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has signed an anti-abortion bill that relies on racial stereotypes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
Just recently, South Dakota lawmakers made unsubstantiated claims that South Dakota’s Asian community is practicing sex-selective abortions. South Dakota’s Asian American population increased by 70 percent from 2000 to 2010.
Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and a leading advocate against these harmful types of bills, released the following statement:
“Once again, South Dakota is at the center of abortion politics. Instead of welcoming Asian American women, who are the backbones of their communities and families, South Dakota’s governor has signed a purposefully misleading bill that undermines our health as women and discriminates against us as Asian Americans.
“Our community has made it clear we don’t support these misleading, stigmatizing bans that hurt us and only serve to exacerbate the health disparities we already face. Nearly 2,000 women and men from South Dakota and around the country signed a petition condemning the racist legislation.
“If these legislators truly cared about AAPI women, they would support policies that help our community, like culturally competent sex education and laws to prevent sexual and domestic violence. These hypocritical bills are designed to ban abortion, plain and simple.”]]>
By Julianne Hing
“Our community has made it clear we don’t support these misleading, stigmatizing bans that hurt us and only serve to exacerbate the health disparities we already face,” NAPAWF executive director Miriam Yeung said in a statement. “If these legislators truly cared about AAPI women, they would support policies that help our community, like culturally competent sex education and laws to prevent sexual and domestic violence. These hypocritical bills are designed to ban abortion, plain and simple.”
Read the whole article on Colorlines here.]]>
BY MIRIAM YEUNG , OSCAR TILLMAN
Passed in 2011, Arizona’s law purportedly banning abortions based on sex or race in fact encourages doctors to racially profile women. It’s time the courts overturn it.
In 2011, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed HB 2443—a law that stigmatizes and discriminates against Black and Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. This law claims to protect women by banning abortions based on sex or race. In reality, although this measure is cloaked in the language of equality, it encourages doctors to racially profile a woman before determining whether to provide her a safe, legal medical service. Legislators have repeatedly invoked ugly racial stereotypes to advance these bans—pointing to the “backwards beliefs” of AAPI women as the justification for banning abortion based on sex and the desire of Black women to “de-select” members of their own race as the motivation for banning abortion based on race. There can be no doubt that these offensive stereotypes hurt women of color, eroding trust between patient and doctor in communities that already face too many health disparities.
Last October, a federal district court judge refused to hear our challenge to this racist law. This week, represented by the ACLU, we appealed that decision because this Arizona law—and others like it—profile Black and AAPI women in order to undermine their personal, private health care decisions. Like similar laws, this one is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and threadbare clothing at that: it enshrines blatant discrimination.
At the crux of the court’s previous dismissal of our case was a misreading of the law. The court held that we couldn’t even bring our claim in the first place because legally sanctioned racial stereotypes do not harm us in ways that the Constitution recognizes. This is plainly wrong.
As women of color have known since before the founding of the republic, and as the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized for more than a century, racial stereotypes are deeply harmful to individuals, to their communities, and to society as a whole. Racial stereotypes are responsible for the deaths of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, and countless other young black men; the violence against South Asians after 9/11; and the internment of over 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.
HB 2443 institutionalizes harmful racial stereotypes because it explicitly relies on the assumption that Black and AAPI women decide to end a pregnancy for certain (disparaged) reasons, and that they do so simply because they are Black and AAPI women. For example, Arizona legislators cited reports of sex-selective abortion in India and China, and then claimed that banning abortions based on sex was necessary because “people from those countries and from those cultures are moving” to Arizona, even though Arizona’s own data shows zero evidence of sex-selective abortion. In the South Dakota legislature, which passed a similar ban just last week, the rhetoric was equally xenophobic and infuriating, openly suggesting that all AAPI women in the state should be considered suspect.
This law also implies that AAPI and Black women in particular are incapable of deciding whether to end a pregnancy in a way that is intelligent, thoughtful, and worthy of respect.
It couldn’t be clearer that these laws don’t just advance racial stereotypes. They are motivated by them as well. And we know they hurt Black and APPI women. Through conversations with AAPI women in Arizona, we know that HB 2443 makes women feel looked down upon by their friends and neighbors simply because of their color and country of origin. The impacts of these stereotypes and stigma cause real harm to our communities.
Unfortunately, these bans are part of a growing anti-choice trend across the country. Since 2009, more than 60 similar bills have been introduced—including at the federal level. There are now eight states with similar laws, and it was the second most-proposed abortion ban in 2013.
Even as they co-opt the language of equality, these bills have nothing to do with helping women or people of color; they are about shaming women who have abortions and undermining women’s health—and they must be stopped.
Miriam Yeung is executive director of the National Asian Pacific America Women’s Forum. The Rev. Oscar Tillman is president of the Maricopa County Branch of the NAACP]]>
Click here to tell the South Dakota legislature that Asian Americans are watching and we won’t let this kind of racism pass quietly under the radar!
The bill passed the South Dakota House last week by an overwhelming 60 to 10 majority and is being taken up in the Senate.
Stace Nelson, one of the Representatives that voted in favor of the bill warned of an invasion of abortion-seeking Asians in South Dakota:
“Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was. There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state.”
This measure, like other similar measures we are seeing across the country, are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The people behind them have never been friends to women, and the measure they propose has been deemed ineffective and a violation of human rights by experts on the issue.
We can’t let this kind of rhetoric go unanswered. If it passes, South Dakota will become the 8th state to pass a racist sex-selection abortion ban, setting a dangerous precedent.
Click here to tell South Dakota that we’re watching!]]>
By Molly Redden, Mother Jones | Tue Feb. 25, 2014 3:00 AM GMT
GOP lawmaker: We need to ban sex-based abortions because Asians live here now
South Dakota already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. But last week, Republican legislators there moved to make it even harder for women to have abortions—with a law they argue is necessary to stop an influx of Asian immigrants from aborting their female children.
On Wednesday, by a vote of 60 to 10, the South Dakota House passed a bill that would ban abortions based on the sex of the fetus, or “sex-selective” abortions. Speaking in favor of the bill, Stace Nelson, a Republican state representative running for the US Senate, hearkened back to his time living in Asia as a Marine. “Many of you know I spent 18 years in Asia,” Nelson said. “And sadly, I can tell you that the rest of the world does not value the lives of women as much as I value the lives of my daughters.”
Don Haggar, another Republican state representative, warned that the values Nelson observed in Asia had already taken root  in South Dakota. “Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was,” Haggar said. “There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state. And I think that’s a good thing that we invite them to come, but I think it’s also important that we send a message that this is a state that values life, regardless of its sex.”
Seven  states  already prohibit sex-selective abortions. In five states, the bans passed after the 2010 elections that swept Republicans into a record number of statehouses. South Dakota’s ban, which is now before the state Senate, would require physicians to ask women seeking abortions whether they are doing so because of the sex of the fetus. If a woman responds yes, her physician must refuse to perform the abortion, or else risk prison and fines.
Legislators who push these measures often tout them as feminist bills. But anti-abortion rights activists in South Dakota have been unusually explicit in arguing that it is necessary to ban sex-selective abortions because of the state’s burgeoning Asian population.
In early February, Spencer Cody, the vice president of South Dakota Right to Life, testified  before the House judiciary committee that due to the state’s changing demographics, sex-selective abortion has become “a South Dakota problem.”
In a PowerPoint presentation he showed to the judiciary committee, Cody referred to studies that found Asian American families tend to have more male female than female children. He then wrote, “1.1% or approximately 9,200 South Dakotans come from ethnic backgrounds that are known to practice sex selection,” and linked to US Census data  estimating that in 2012, 1.1 percent of South Dakotans were of Asian descent.
Another slide read, “Ethnic backgrounds that are known to practice sex selection account for up to 3.9% of all abortions in South Dakota.” It referred to South Dakota Department of Health statistics  showing that 3.9 percent of abortion patients in 2011 reported their race as “other,” that is, not white, black, or Native American. “It’s possible that this could be affecting as many as 24 abortions a year,” Cody concluded—assuming every woman who reported her race as “other” was Asian, and every one of them was seeking an abortion only because of the fetus’s sex.
“We’ve been saying that these bills are wolves in sheep’s clothing. But in this case, I think the wolf has left off the sheep’s clothing.”
“The racism and the stereotypes and the stigma is laid so bare here,” says Miriam Yeung, the director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. The group has long argued  that that sex-selective abortion bans perpetuate negative stereotypes about Asian American women. “We’ve been saying that these bills are wolves in sheep’s clothing. But in this case, I think the wolf has left off the sheep’s clothing.”
Haggar tells Mother Jones that he was not singling out any one ethnic group—although he specifically called out Nelson’s Asian travels in his remarks Wednesday.
Cody, asked why he dwelt on the number of Asians living in South Dakota, tells Mother Jones that he is confident that Americans of many backgrounds practice sex-selective abortions, but the only studies available focus on Asian Americans.
“We don’t have any hard data that says, ‘This number of sex-selection abortions are taking place in South Dakota,’” Cody says. “So we just used some demographic data. That’s really the only data we have to go on…The question, if this [ban] would actually affect any South Dakotans, is one we can’t answer yet.”
But Sneha Barot, a senior public policy associate with the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights think tank, argues  that studies linking Asian American women to sex-selective abortions are “limited and inconclusive.” For example, two  studies  Cody cites found that in some Asian American groups, couples are more likely to have a son as their third child if their first two children are female. But neither study concluded this pattern was the result of sex-selective abortions.
Americans United for Life, the legal arm of the anti-abortion movement, cites these studies, too, in suggesting that Asian American women seek abortions because they prefer boys over girls. As a solution, the group promotes model legislation  for sex-selective abortion bans. But anti-abortion rights activists generally avoid references to such stereotypes about Asian women. Instead they characterize these bans as victories for feminism. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) called one proposed ban  a measure “to protect little girls from the violence of sex-selection abortion.” National Right to Life, in a letter to House members preparing to vote on a similar bill in 2012, asked legislators to think of the bill as a way to combat “a war on baby girls.”
Peggy Gibson, a Democratic state representative who voted against the South Dakota bill, said the right-to-lifers are pushing a phony issue. “I did not hear the sponsor of the bill give one iota of evidence that a [sex-selective] abortion has taken place in South Dakota. This bill…is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Source URL: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/02/south-dakota-stace-nelson-ban-sex-
Many thanks to our partners at the Coalition for Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia for testifying against the bill and to all our members who took action and contacted Virginia lawmakers!]]>