National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum argues before 9th Cir. Court of Appeals in lawsuit against Arizona race- and sex- selective abortion bans

Published: Wednesday, December 9th, 2015


December 9, 2015
Lauren Gray, Camino PR


NEW YORK — Today, the 9th Cir. Court of Appeals will hear arguments in NAACP and NAPAWF v. Tom Horne to determine whether the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Maricopa County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP-MC) have standing to challenge the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011,” an Arizona race- and sex- selective abortion ban.

“Arizona’s deceptively named abortion ban is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said NAPAWF Executive Director Miriam Yeung. “While the law purports to fight racism and sexism by banning race- and sex-selective abortions, it really is yet another attempt to prevent women from accessing safe and legal abortion. In addition to creating unnecessary barriers to health care, these laws fuel racism and stigma by promoting false stereotypes that Asian Americans do not value women and girls.”

NAPAWF and the NAACP-MC, represented by attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), will argue that racial stigma and intentional discrimination resulting from the law causes sufficient harm to warrant standing. The appeal is in response to the dismissal of a 2013 challenge brought by the ACLU on behalf of NAPAWF and the NAACP-MC to an Arizona race- and sex-selection abortion ban law on grounds that it unconstitutionally discriminated against people of color. The case was dismissed by the district court for lack of standing. The outcome of today’s arguments will determine whether the NAPAWF and NAACP-MC case can be heard on its merits.

NAPAWF argues that sex-selective abortion bans exploit an international problem to push a domestic anti-abortion agenda by furthering false stereotypes about the Asian American community. For example, the Arizona state legislature cited reports of sex-selection abortions in Asia to justify including a sex-selective provision during the passage of the law.

There is currently no evidence that Asian American women in Arizona are seeking sex-selective abortions. A recent national study from the University of Chicago School of Law shows that Asian Americans are actually giving birth to more girls than white Americans.

“As a Phoenix native and a third-generation Japanese-American, I can attest to the fact that laws stemming from racist stereotypes that Asian Americans do not value women and girls have no place in Arizona,” said Kathy Nakagawa, founding sister and co-chair of the NAPAWF Arizona chapter. “This law denigrates the AAPI community and our rights.”

In recent years, politicians in almost half the states in the country as well as a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives have tried to pass anti-abortion laws, purportedly to address a bias against girl children among Asian Americans. In response, cities such as San Francisco and Oakland have taken a stand against the racism and stigma fueled by sex-selective abortion bans by issuing city council resolutions prohibiting these types of laws from being enacted. A similar resolution is currently being considered by New York City Council.

To access NAPAWF’s fact sheet on case background and procedural history, click here.


The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF): NAPAWF is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing, and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls.


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