December 5, 2019
Contact: Jaslin Kaur
(202) 656-8391 /

Washington, D.C. – Today, Sarah Pitlyk was confirmed as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Pitlyk has spent her legal career attacking access to reproductive health care and has perpetuated racist and false stereotypes about Asian American and Pacific Islander women and other women of color. 

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow issued the following statement in response:

“We denounce the confirmation of Sarah Pitlyk as a federal judge in the Eastern District of Missouri. Ms. Pitlyk’s record of undermining the rights and agency of women of color and perpetuating false racist and xenophobic stereotypes about Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and other women of color demonstrates that she will continue to ignore the rights of AAPI women and girls as a judge. 

As an attorney for the Thomas More Society, an anti-abortion organization, Ms. Pitlyk has consistently advocated to limit access to reproductive health care, relying on harmful racist stereotypes about women of color. Just last year, she co-authored an amicus brief in Box v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, in which she argued in favor of sex-selective abortion bans, arguing that AAPIs have a preference for sons and thus have a widespread practice of obtaining abortions based on the sex of the fetus. Pitlyk’s brief refers to AAPI women as “women in cultures with a ‘son-preference,’” but contrary to her arguments, a 2014 University of Chicago study found that AAPIs actually give birth to more girls than white women do. The stereotype is not only racist, false and ugly—it is also dangerous and may lead to the racial profiling of AAPI women. 

Ms. Pitlyk’s brief also advanced racist narratives about women of color to support race-selective abortion bans, which are based on the absurd premise that women of color are being coerced into having abortions based on the race of the fetus. These bans perpetuate the racist and oppressive notion that women of color cannot be trusted to make their own reproductive decisions.

“In addition to her disturbing record on abortion bans, Pitlyk has pushed for numerous policies that undermine the rights of women and communities of color. For instance, she advocated strongly for Trump Administration’s 2019 Title X rule, or the Domestic Gag Rule, which prohibits Title X clinics from referring people to abortion care, severely limiting access to reproductive healthcare for women of color who disproportionately receive care at Title X-funded health centers. Ms. Pitlyk has also advocated against birth control access, authoring an amicus brief in support of the employers in Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius, a Supreme Court case which allowed private employers with religious objections to deny coverage of contraception to their employees. 

Ms. Pitlyk’s work has undermined reproductive agency by consistently opposing assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, that allow for individuals to make their own reproductive choices. Additionally, she has publicly opposed the Affordable Care Act and advocated against affirmative action programs. The President’s choice to nominate Pitlyk is deeply disconcerting because it continues his pattern of filling the courts with individuals who demonstrate hostility towards women and communities of color and have a disregard for the rights and liberties protected by the Constitution.

For pregnant AAPI people, threats to reproductive rights and access to care are direct threats to our bodily autonomy and undermine our ability to make decisions for our own lives and families. As a district court judge, Ms. Pitlyk will have the power to decide many cases involving critical legal protections for groups and constitutional rights she has worked against. Women of color rely on the protections enforced by courts, yet we strongly question whether Ms. Pitlyk will do so given her record of advancing her personal anti-abortion agenda at the expense of marginalized communities. We call on Pitlyk to be a fair and impartial judge and to uphold our fundamental rights protected by the Constitution and the laws of the United States. AAPI women and girls deserve to have agency and autonomy over our lives, our families, and our communities, and NAPAWF will not stop fighting fiercely for that right. We hope our elected and appointed officials will join us in making this a reality.”


The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build collective power so that all AAPI women and girls can have full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.