by Pramila Jayapal and Miriam Yeung • Feb 8, 2016 at 12:24 pm
This week, the Senate Law and Justice Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 6612, the so-called “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act,” out of committee. This law would ban sex-selective abortions in Washington by criminalizing doctors who provide abortions based on the sex of the fetus. The ban sounds well-intentioned, but as Asian-American women who have worked on gender rights issues for decades, we are deeply concerned that this bill chips away at a woman’s constitutional right to abortion and birth control while simultaneously fueling false stereotypes about Asian-American women.
Bills such as SB 6612 have been introduced in various state legislatures across the country, and unfortunately the testimony presented has relied heavily on false stereotypes that Asian-Americans do not value girls. The intent section of Washington’s SB 6612 cites examples of skewed sex ratios in China and India to justify its existence, rather than data from Washington or any state in the U.S. The way the bill is crafted, and the testimony of individuals who quote these kinds of statistics incorrectly, harmfully suggests that immigrants from Asian countries bring sex-selective practices with them. For example, after referencing several statistics from various Asian countries, Angela Connelly, president of the Washington Women’s Network, said on Tuesday, “We are a nation that is multicultural and that is a great thing. It is a strength, BUT we will not allow sex discrimination or discrimination against women and girls in any form in this nation.”
Yet, there is simply no evidence that sex-selective abortions are happening widely in the United States. In fact, Asian-American families are actually giving birth to more girls than white American families. We learned this whenUniversity of Chicago Law School researchers released a report that identified and disproved the myths used to advance these deceptive bills.
In fact, many Asian-American immigrant families are attracted to the United States because they value their daughters and want more opportunities for them. The two authors of this editorial are here because of that very belief.
While son preference is a serious problem in some other countries, using baseless stigma to create unnecessary barriers to accessing reproductive health care does nothing to promote the rights of women and girls in India, China, or in the United States.
The use of racial stereotypes to stop access to abortion in the U.S., or to pass any other law, is harmful and must be firmly rejected. Consider what could happen if Washington state passed 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. Far from protecting women, this law suggests that Asian-American women are heavily involved in barbaric sex-selection practices rather than making considered, careful, and thoughtful choices about their own bodies like any other women.
This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, even if unintended in that way. Some lawmakers claim to be protecting the rights of women and girls but passing this bill would actually decrease women’s access to health care. Instead, lawmakers who want to make Asian-American women and families’ lives better should instead prioritize equal pay for women, paid sick and safe leave for all working women and families, and raising the minimum wage statewide. Washington state legislators should join cities like San Francisco and Oakland, which have passed resolutions taking strong stands against these discriminatory sex-selection abortion bans.
Even those who oppose abortion should be able to stand in opposition to these attacks on women because this legislation promotes unjust and harmful stereotypes. We oppose this bill because it demonizes our cultures and discriminates rather than protects. And our hope is that by educating our communities on this deeply problematic, baseless legislation, we will help prevent the passage of this bill and other future bills based on harmful stereotypes rather than fact.
Pramila Jayapal represents the 37th District in the Washington State Senate and is an immigrant from India. She is currently running for the 7th Congressional District. Miriam Yeung is the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and an immigrant from Hong Kong.]]>
January 22, 2016
St. Paul, Minn. — Gail Chang Bohr, retired Ramsey County District Court judge, was one of six recipients of the Minnesota Council on Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Distinguished Service Award. The ceremony was on January 18, 2016, Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, and was held at the Ordway Music Theater, St. Paul.
This award recognizes and affirms the work of those who made significant contributions in race relations, justice, community service, education, and/or human rights. Recipients demonstrated leadership, made impact in their communities, and advanced the causes of human and civil rights.
In 2008, Gail Chang Bohr was elected as the first Asian American judge in Ramsey County, Second Judicial District of Minnesota, home to the largest Asian Pacific American community in Minnesota. She retired in 2014 and serves as a senior judge for the State of Minnesota. Bohr also serves as an international consultant with the National Center for State Courts Trinidad and Tobago Juvenile Court Project.
Bohr was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, to Chinese parents. She came to the United States in 1962 to attend Wellesley College in Massachusetts on a full scholarship and graduated with a B. A. in 1966. She also obtained a M. S. degree in Social Work from Simmons College School of Social Work.
Her education helped her achieve a 19-year career as a clinical social worker serving children and families in the U. S. and Hong Kong.
Bohr entered William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, graduating magna cum laude in 1991, was editor and executive editor of the William Mitchell Law Review, then clerked for A.M. “Sandy” Keith, chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court. She practiced law at Faegre and Benson, LLP, in Minneapolis.
From 1995 to 2008, Bohr was the first executive director of Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, trained over 270 volunteer lawyers, initiated award-winning programs to provide representation to children in the foster care system, and secured state reforms, including independent living skills, for youth transitioning from foster care.
Bohr has taught trial advocacy, designed and taught Children’s Law Center of Minnesota training programs for lawyers, written many articles on representation of children, and has served on national and statewide committees on children’s rights. For her child advocacy work, Bohr received numerous awards, including awards from William Mitchell College of Law, American Bar Association, Minnesota Lawyer publication, Minnesota State Bar Association, and the Minnesota Council of Child Caring Agencies.
Bohr serves on the advisory board of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the executive committee of the Infinity Project, and the board of directors of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. She is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association, Ramsey County Bar Association, and Hennepin County Bar Association. Bohr helped found the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and is an advisor to the Coalition of Asian American Leaders.]]>
NEW YORK — Yesterday, Washington State’s Committee on Law and Justice voted to pass Senate Bill 6612 — a bill that bans abortions based on the fetus’ sex — out of committee. The abortion ban is based on false stereotypes of Asian Americans rather than facts and would create additional barriers to women’s access to health care. National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Executive Director Miriam Yeung issued the following statement in response:
“We are outraged by yesterday’s Senate committee vote on Washington’s proposed abortion ban that undermines women’s health and fuels racist stereotypes that Asian American families do not value girls. This bill is an insult to the 1 in 10 Washingtonians who are Asian American.
“Washington’s sex-selective abortion ban is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Senate Bill 6612 masquerades as a measure to eliminate gender discrimination but instead opens the door to abortion restrictions that intimidate women and impede access to health care.
“Washington’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is the fastest growing racial group in the state. Yesterday’s vote endangers access to health care for the women of this community and does nothing to further women’s rights or make AAPI women’s lives better.
“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum urges lawmakers who want to improve the lives of AAPI women and their families to focus on issues such as equal pay or immigration policy reform, or to ask AAPI women in their communities which issues matter most to them.”
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.]]>
By Lourdes A. Rivera
Senior Program Officer, Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice
January 22, 2016
Forty-three years after the US Supreme Court legalized abortion, the mainstream debate about reproductive rights still rages—and still focuses overwhelmingly on abortion.
There is good reason for this: Almost every day brings news of reckless, self-righteous attacks on Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers, and on the women from all walks of life who seek these services. But as important as it is to protect abortion rights (especially as they are increasingly under attack), it’s equally important to understand that this debate is about much more than abortion. In fact, it is a proxy for a whole range of issues tied to women’s self-determination and status, in both public and private.
That’s why now as much as ever, we need to put the fight for reproductive justice at the center of broader efforts to challenge inequality. Today Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and yet its provisions are essentially meaningless to many women. By centering on the lives and experiences of poor women, women of color, and young women in particular, reproductive justice helps explain why that is and what we can do about it.
As women of color have long voiced, reproductive justice goes beyond the right to abortion and contraception. While both are very important, they are just some of many things that women need in order to make decisions about their health and their lives—including the right to have a child, not have a child, and parent the child she has in a safe, supportive environment.
By examining these issues through a reproductive justice lens, a more complete picture starts to emerge—one grounded in the understanding that:
Women’s lives matter—whether they are pregnant, a parent, or without children.
In too many cases, the complexity of a woman’s life is used as a reason to restrict her actions and punish her perceived missteps, sometimes criminally. When a pregnant woman is not treated with respect and dignity, as a full person, it is easy to see her poverty, immigration status, discriminatory treatment (based on factors including race, sexuality, or HIV status), lack of access to health care, and physical and/or mental health issues (including addiction and trauma) not as obstacles to her own wellbeing, but as reasons to condemn her for “endangering” her fetus.
It should ultimately be up to women to decide what health services to access.
High quality, effective health care means providing women with a range of services to meet their diverse needs, not picking and choosing the ones that are least controversial—or that others believe are best for them. This means, for example, not being subjected to politically driven misinformation about abortion, and not being pressured to use any particular form of contraception or undergo an unnecessary C-section. It means being able to access prenatal care and drug treatment services without fear of arrest, and having access to comprehensive health services, such as could be available with Medicaid expansion and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
If there are significant barriers to access, the right to abortion is incomplete.
Abortion may be legal, but since federal funds are highly restricted in paying for abortion services, the procedure is unaffordable and out of reach for many women who rely on Medicaid, Indian Health Services, and other public health care programs. Access is also burdensome for women who must devote time and resources to travel to a far away clinic (at a time when clinics are being unduly shuttered, and many areas lack a nearby provider), take time off from work to do so (which, for women in low-wage jobs, is often unpaid) and find care for dependents in their absence.
These are just some of the issues reproductive justice advocates are raising. Groups like SisterSong and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, in partnership with the Center for Reproductive Rights, are calling attention to the ways race and gender discrimination and inadequate healthcare are harming women, including those who dearly want to bring their pregnancies to term. These organizations and others, including National Advocates for Pregnant Women,National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and California Latinas for Reproductive Justice are challenging the ways pregnant poor women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women are depicted alternately as selfish and irresponsible, as naïve victims, and as perpetrators of violence against their own communities—showing instead that they are people worthy of dignity and respect who can thrive if supported to do so.
The Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center is combatting the impunity behind shameful levels of sexual assault against Native American women, while also fighting for access to compassionate, quality services for survivors, including emergency contraception and abortion. Efforts by Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need, the National Health Law Program and many others—including organizations led by women of color—are working tirelessly to ensure that women have access to comprehensive health care, including abortionand maternity care.
By lifting their own voices and telling their own stories, many of these women arepushing back against such simplistic representations and pursuing their own agendas. Groups like Advocates for Youth, the Yo Soy campaign, and Forward Together‘s Echoing Ida are supporting a range of diverse voices to challenge stereotypes and combat the stigma and shame that so often surrounds decision-making about sexuality and reproductive health. And of course, these are just some of the many organizations on the front lines of reproductive justice.
Women of color have also filed historic amicus briefs in the Supreme Court case challenging Texas anti-abortion laws, highlighting the stories of black, Latina, and immigrant women who have felt the brunt of state policies resulting in mass closures of women’s health clinics.
So, as we commemorate Roe v. Wade, let us remember that while the most visible part of this fight for women’s dignity and self-determination has been focused on abortion, that issue is inextricably linked to discrimination and inequality. It is only by tackling those larger issues in all of their forms—and supporting the leadership of those who are most affected by intersecting oppressions—that we can make meaningful progress for the lives of all women.
Lauren Gray, Camino PR
Janet Chung, Legal Voice
NEW YORK — Tomorrow, Washington State’s Committee on Law and Justice will hear Senate Bill 6612 – a bill that bans abortions based on the fetus’ sex. The abortion ban is based on false stereotypes of Asian Americans rather than facts and would create additional barriers to women’s access to health care.
“This racist ban on abortion is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) Executive Director Miriam Yeung. “While disguised as a bill to eliminate discrimination, Washington’s proposed abortion ban actually both undermines women’s health and fuels racist stereotypes that Asian American families do not value girls.”
AAPI are the fasting growing racial group in Washington, with the fifth-largest AAPI community in the country. Washington’s AAPI community already struggles with substantial barriers to seeking and accessing health care services.
“SB6612 is a bill based on racist stereotypes of our Asian American communities. By propagating false assumptions about Asian American values, SB6612 intends to prevent access to safe reproductive health care for all of our Washington families and communities. Washington State communities of color already face many challenges to accessing health care, and SB6612 would only add additional barriers,” said Yong Chan Miller, executive director of Surge.
Sex-selective abortion bans are often falsely justified as necessary to keep Asian American immigrants from engaging in son preference in the US. However, a study from the University of Chicago Law School shows this premise to be false. Asian American families are actually giving birth to more girls than white American families.
“SB 6612’s targeted ban of certain abortions will not provide a real solution to gender discrimination. We support policies that have been shown to be effective in improving the lives of women and girls — including improving education, health care access and pay equity — and we encourage state lawmakers to do the same,” said Janet Chung, attorney with Legal Voice.
Rather than addressing gender discrimination and equity, SB6612 represents an attack on access to reproductive rights and health care.
“Let’s call this bill what it actually is: yet another extreme attempt to chip away at women’s access to abortion, and not a very clever one at that. Our state senate’s annual attempt to ignore their other responsibilities and come between a woman and her doctor is getting very old, very quickly,” said Jennifer Allen, director of public policy at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest & Hawaii. “Elected officials should instead focus on finding ways to reduce unintended pregnancy and expand access to birth control, like SB 6369, legislation to provide 12 months of birth control at a time.”
“This legislation is nothing more than an attempt to chip away at women’s constitutionally protected right to abortion in the guise of protecting girls and women,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Washington Executive Director Rachel Berkson. “It’s disingenuous, unenforceable and an invasion of privacy that would require doctors to act as mind readers and law-enforcement officers instead of caregivers.”
Informed not by medicine or research, but rather by racist stereotypes and a thinly veiled anti-choice agenda, this bill would endanger the health of AAPI women and their families. The bill would also jeopardize physicians’ ability to conduct honest and confidential conversations with their patients without fear of possible felony charges, civil penalties and/or loss of their medical license.
“As a woman, a mother, and a doctor, I support a woman’s right to choose and her legal right to an abortion,” said family physician Dr. Ying Zhang. “Anti-choice politicians have proposed laws banning sex-selective abortions based on inaccurate information and discriminatory stereotypes of Asian Americans. These laws restrict women’s access to medical care, threaten women’s health and the health of their families, and threaten doctors’ ability to provide our patients with medically appropriate and compassionate care.”
“Asian American women who call our hotline tell us that they already face many barriers to accessing abortion care: lack of affordable health insurance, difficulty getting to a clinic, and sometimes language barriers,” said Trina Stout, co-president of the Pacific Northwest’s abortion fund, The CAIR Project. “Our lawmakers should be listening to these voices and expanding access to health care, not trying to take it away.”
Sex-selective abortion bans not only further undermine the ability of AAPI women to have open and honest conversations with their health care provider, but also increase the likelihood that providers will deny them the care and information they need.
NAPAWF urges lawmakers who want to make Asian American women’s and families’ lives better to instead prioritize advancing issues such as equal pay and immigration policy reform – or to ask Asian Americans in their districts which issues matter most to them.
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.]]>
Lawmakers should oppose Senate Bill 1629/House Bill 1600 and instead create effective, evidence based policies to support the health of women, their children and our communities!
January 26, 2016
Dear Tennessee General Assembly,
On behalf of the undersigned organizations and the hundreds of thousands of women and families we represent in Tennessee and throughout the country, we are writing in opposition to Tennessee’s fetal assault law (TCA 39-13-107) and the legislation that has been introduced to extend this dangerous policy. Not only is this law not working to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers are able to access treatment, but it has been shown to have a harmful impact on women and families in Tennessee. This law should be allowed to sunset with no extensions, expansions or replacements.
This 2014 law says that a pregnant woman or a new mother can be thrown into jail if she gives birth to a baby harmed by the use of narcotics during pregnancy, but it has been used both to punish women who have used narcotic drugs and given birth to healthy babies, as well as women who have used no drugs at all. We understand the need to address the public health issue of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)*, but the recommended protocol is to keep children with their mothers and to ensure access to medication assisted treatment and other recovery services and support – not to separate families and put women in jail.
Proponents of the law claimed it was aimed at getting women into treatment, but no new funding has been made available to increase access to appropriate services for people who have diagnosed drug dependency problems. Medication assisted treatment is the recommended protocol for pregnant women. There are only 12 licensed methadone centers throughout Tennessee and they do not accept TennCare or other health insurance. Additionally, only 11 of the 39 licensed residential detox programs will accept pregnant women. Waiting lists for care can have hundreds and even over 1,000 people on them at any given time.
Women are told that they can avoid jail time if they complete a treatment program, but in actuality they are being forced into the criminal justice system because they either cannot afford paying out of pocket for medication assisted treatment or they are turned away from treatment programs because there are not enough facilities available. Further, the law discourages women from seeking prenatal care and other critical health services out of fear of being arrested. Women’s human rights are at stake when going to seek healthcare results in the threat of criminal sanctions – especially in light of the disparate impact that these kinds of policies have on low-income women and women of color.
Tennessee is spending tax dollars putting mothers through the costly criminal justice system when those funds could be used to expand access to evidence based treatment programs in Tennessee that provide care for pregnant women, as well as programs that allow older children to stay with their mothers. Lawmakers should also look at developing and funding pilot maternity and infant care programs in areas of the state with high NAS rates that is based on recommendations for infants with NAS symptoms and increases the quality, safety and value of newborn care in our state.
This letter includes recommendations that will help us all support the health of women, their children and our communities. We urge Tennessee lawmakers to oppose Senate Bill 1629 and House Bill 1600. Let this harmful law sunset and instead commit to more effective, evidence- based solutions to address pregnancy and drug use.
ACCESS Women’s Health Justice
Advocates for Youth
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee (ACLU-TN)
Catholics for Choice
Center for Reproductive Rights
Chattanooga Organized for Action
CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health
Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
The First Year Foundation Incorporated
Healthy and Free TN
Law Students for Reproductive Justice – Vanderbilt
Memphis Women’s Fund
Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center
Multidisciplinary Intensive Support Treatment (MIST)
Nashville Feminist Collective
National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW)
National Alliance for Medication Assisted (NAMA) Recovery of Tennessee
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum – Nashville chapter
National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)
National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) – Tennessee section
National Institute for Reproductive Health
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF)
National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF)
National Women’s Law Center
Physicians for Reproductive Health
SisterSong: National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective
SPARK Reproductive Justice Now
Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services (TAADAS)
West Virginia Free
Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga
Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis
Stop jailing women, separating families and making drug treatment harder to get.
*NAS is a set of temporary and treatable symptoms of withdrawal experienced by some newborns that are prenatally exposed to opioids.]]>
by Margaret Chin and Miriam Yeung, Jan 22, 2016
New York City has the opportunity to support Asian-Americans and women’s health by opposing deceptively named, so-called “sex-selective abortion bans.”
These attacks on a woman’s right to choose are wolves in sheep’s clothing. At a glance, such bans might sound like laws meant to further women’s rights. But they actually do just the opposite.
The tragic reality of “son preference” has been a serious issue in some countries, such as India and China, where women do not have the same rights and status that they have here. But male preference is not a widespread issue in the United States – not for any specific ethnic group or for the population as a whole. In fact, a recent study conducted by the University of Chicago Law School finds that Asian-Americans are giving birth to more girls than white Americans.
Given these facts, the sex-selective bans being introduced across the U.S. are disingenuous at best. They exploit a real problem around gender that has been well documented in other countries to harm the very communities they purport to help.
In an effort to draw attention to these harmful and offensive bans, we have drafted a resolution that was recently introduced in the City Council to put the City of New York on record in opposition to this latest attack on a woman’s right to choose.
More than just an attack on reproductive health and family planning services, these bans promote ugly stereotypes about our community – namely, that we as Asian-Americans do not value the lives of our girls.
Many in the Asian-American community already face heightened barriers to accessing care, and laws like sex-selective abortion bans widen the gap. Sex-selective bans also damage the doctor-patient relationship by opening private medical decisions to scrutiny by both health-care providers and law enforcement.
This is not just bad policy; sex-selective abortion bans are dangerous to women’s health and could have a chilling effect on women seeking health care. Under no circumstances should patient-doctor parenting discussions be called into question because of one’s skin color or ethnicity.
Factors like immigration status, income and cultural and linguistic barriers already make it difficult for women in our community to get the health care they need. In New York City, 49 percent of Asian-American adults have limited English proficiency. And 20 percent of all Asian-Americans in the city are uninsured.
With New York City home to one of the largest Asian-American populations in the country, we must take a stand and demand that our state and federal colleagues work to ensure our communities have greater access to health care — not more restrictions.
In their myopic pursuit of an anti-choice agenda, some lawmakers are irresponsibly placing basic health care needs of the Asian American community at risk. And yet, despite the dangerous consequences, they are having some legislative success. In 2013 and 2014, sex-selective bans were the second most proposed type of abortion restriction in the country. Even New York State is not immune —this year, one such lawwas introduced in the Assembly. We must stem the tide of these attacks.
By working together with advocates to introduce this new resolution, we are urging our city to take a stand against these offensive bans. If the City Council passes this important resolution, it could become the third city in the country to denounce this attack on access to health care and family planning for thousands of Asian-Americans.
New Yorkers deserve better. Join us in standing up against racism and supporting women’s health by urging your City Council representative to support this important resolution.
by New York City Council Member Margaret Chin and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Miriam Yeung.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 19, 2016
WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision to take up the appeal of Texas v. United States, in which lower courts blocked some of President Obama’s most notable executive actions on immigration, which would allow close to 5 million members of the undocumented community to seek relief from removal.
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court will hear this case and determine once and for all that President Obama’s executive actions can move forward, allowing many women workers, community leaders, survivors of gender-based violence and families to continue contributing to our economy and live with dignity and free from the fear of family separation.” stated Miriam Yeung, co-chair of We Belong Together.
We Belong Together co-chair Andrea Cristina Mercado added, “As we await the Supreme Court’s final decision, expected this summer, President Obama should take immediate action to end the inhumane treatment of migrants and refugees caused by his immigration enforcement policies. Families, including small children, should not be subjected to home raids and being locked behind bars in detention. Women who have survived violence and trauma and sought refuge within our borders should not be returned to life-threatening violence. Families should not be torn apart.”
We Belong Together will continue preparing to help thousands of immigrant women apply for relief if and when the Supreme Court allows the executive actions move forward.
We Belong Together is a campaign co-anchored by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and the National Domestic Workers Alliance to mobilize women in support of immigration policies that keep families together and empower women. To learn more about our campaign, please visit http://www.webelongtogether.org.]]>
Contact: Lauren Gray, Camino Public Relations
NEW YORK –– In response to President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), released the following statement:
“President Obama’s final State of the Union address celebrated his accomplishments and highlighted the best attributes of our country while underscoring the substantial challenges we still face. Asian American and Pacific Islander women know all too well the injustices of the current immigration system. We have personally felt the sting of xenophobia, fueled by increasingly ugly rhetoric. We are frustrated by an economic recovery that continues to build the largesse of the one percent, without substantially raising wages and improving benefits for working families — especially women, who are paid less than our white, male counterparts. Our reproductive rights are challenged by organized forces who want to roll back the clocks on women’s rights and are limited by racial inequities, language barriers, immigration and economic status.
“Like the president, we are committed to continuing our work to overcome these obstacles, to right these injustices and work across our differences to strengthen our country. We agree that diversity is a key and unique strength of our country. AAPI women and girls are an important part of the history of the United States and also our future.
“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum renews our commitment to organizing our communities to build a stronger nation and to hold our elected officials to American values of freedom, plurality and justice.”]]>
Last month, the State of Indiana responded to an appeal filed on behalf of Purvi Patel, a 35-year-old woman who was found guilty of feticide and neglect in a controversial Spring 2014 ruling. The State stood firm on its earlier conviction,arguing there was “sufficient evidence” to suggest she was guilty of the crimes.
The legal team representing Patel has until close of business today, January 12, to respond to the State. As for the Indiana Court of Appeals, it has not yet set a date on which to decide the appeal.
“The State’s evidence sufficiently proved Defendant’s baby was born alive, and was, therefore, her dependent,” Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Deputy Attorney General Ellen Meilaender wrote in response to the appeal. “[…] The State’s evidence, and the reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the evidence, prove that Defendant placed her baby in a situation of actual and appreciable danger to his life and health by failing to provide any medical care for him immediately after his birth.”
Patel’s case splashed national headlines and drew support from a number of reproductive rights groups, many of which have expressed concern that her conviction sets a worrisome precedent that could hold women legally accountable for the outcome of their own pregnancies.
According to a number of other sources, Patel was arrested during an emergency room visit on July 13, 2013, near South Bend, IN, where she lives. A doctor, who belongs to an anti-abortion group, noticed that she was bleeding heavily and called the police.
Prosecutors alleged that she took abortion medication, which is not a crime in Indiana. The jury convicted Patel on both counts in February, and a judge sentenced her to serve 20 years in prison for the alleged self-induced abortion.
Her appeal presented a two-pronged case against her convictions, arguing that the State not only failed to prove neglect but also employed an “absurd” use of the feticide law, according to the South Bend Tribune, a regional newspaper that has extensively covered the trial.
Some advocacy groups, such as the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), have argued that Patel was found guilty under Indiana’s feticide law, which was designed to protect pregnant women from violence—but is now being “twisted to criminalize them.”
In addition to the troubling implications of the court’s decision to sentence Patel on both charges, the NAPAWF argued it was “no coincidence” that the only two women to have ever been charged under Indiana’s feticide law are both Asian.
“The Indiana Attorney General’s response to Purvi Patel’s appeal is not a surprise,” NAPAWF Executive Director, Miriam Yeung, said in a statement. “We believe that Purvi Patel’s prosecution and conviction were fueled by racist myths. Throughout the U.S., Asian American women’s reproductive rights are being denied and their family-planning decisions are being policed based on racial stereotypes held by anti-choice activists and government officials. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum steadfastly stands in support of Purvi Patel and her pursuit of justice.”
In 2011, prosecutors charged Bei Bei Shuai, a Chinese-American woman, with murder and attempted feticide.According to Brown Girl Magazine, Shuai, who was depressed after a breakup with her boyfriend, attempted suicide by consuming rat poison. At the time of her attempt, Shuai was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. Doctors performed a caesarian section (c-section) to save her baby, who was taken off of life support after two days. Despite the fact thatattempted suicide is not a crime in Indiana, Shuai was the first woman in the state’s history to be held liable for the outcome of her own pregnancy.
State attorneys argued that “the law has never required that the feticide statute only be applied to third parties, and that the State has long given prosecutors discretion when an act is a crime under overlapping laws,” according to the South Bend Tribune.
The State also “rejected the idea that a live birth would rule out feticide, noting that the law does not require an immediate death, but only the intentional termination of a pregnancy with an intent other than to produce a live birth or remove a dead fetus, with the exception of a lawful abortion.”]]>