How to Shift Hearts & Minds — Fighting Racist Anti-Abortion Legislation
We won’t tolerate politicians who restrict the reproductive rights and justice of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Yesterday, Arkansas legislature gave the final vote to advance HB 1434, a sex-selective abortion ban that would make it illegal to provide abortion services if health providers even suspect they are sought due to “sex preference.” This is offensive to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities who are specifically targeted and stereotyped by sex-selective abortion bans.
While HB 1434 cloaks itself in the language of non-discrimination, AAPI communities are not fooled. Sex-selective abortion bans chip away at legal access to abortion, thereby making it inaccessible for AAPI people. HB 1434 is based on the false premise that AAPI families prefer sons over daughters and will seek abortions because of that preference. Despite the fact that this myth has been debunked, time and time again, politicians continue to use these awful stereotypes to advance their anti-abortion agenda. The bans intimidate physicians with threats of fines and jail time, making any AAPI person seeking reproductive services a suspect, and could lead to the denial of equal access to abortion and private reproductive care for AAPI women.
HB 1434 does not just impact Arkansas. If this bill becomes law, it would send an unfortunate message to the six other states in which sex-selective abortion bans have also been introduced in 2017 alone (Missouri, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Illinois). To top it off, legislators have introduced a sex-selective abortion ban federally. We’re talking legislation that will affect AAPI women, trans, and gender nonconforming people across the nation.
While HB 1434 passed through Arkansas legislature, there is still time to push back against this offensive, harmful, and discriminatory bill before it becomes law. Governor Asa Hutchinson has five days to either veto this bill or allow it to pass.
Here are three actions you can take today to stop Arkansas HB 1434:
1. Call Governor Hutchinson and tell him to veto HB 1434.
Governor Asa Hutchinson has until Tuesday, March 28 to either veto, sign, or allow the bill to pass without his signature. Gov. Hutchinson already has an egregious anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood record. Now more than ever, we need to resist.
Call Gov. Hutchinson’s office at 501–682–2345 and let him know that HB 1434 would disproportionately harm and stereotype AAPI women and inhibit them from receiving equal access to reproductive care.
Even if you don’t live in Arkansas, how powerful would it be for out of state groups who belong to nonprofits, businesses, and other organizations to all show their opposition? Anyone can call and express their lack of support for this offensive bill— the more voices we have, the better.
2. Speak, Tweet, and Write Against #HB1434
Sex-selective bans typically don’t get the same media attention as other abortion restrictions (yet!) even though they set a dangerous precedent for denying access to abortion based on racial and ethnic stereotypes. Reproductive rights activists have to be willing to stand up and speak out against bills that target communities of color. Reproductive justice will only be achieved when all people have access to a full range of reproductive options — HB 1434 will only hurt that vision.
“Reproductive rights activists have to be willing to stand up and speak out against bills that target communities of color.”
Talk to people IRL and on social media, submit letters to the editor, and blog about sex-selective abortion bans. Use these resourecs to debunk the racist and sexist stereotypes that underlie these bans and let your community know when legislators try to pass sex-selective bans on a state or federal level. Elected officials need to know that when they spread misinformation about AAPI communities and try to legislate our communities — they are going to hear from us.
3. Fight against the racist myths that fuel sex-selective abortion bans.
Arkansas Rep. Charlie Collins told the Arkansas News Bureau that he sponsored this bill in part because he “believes some sex-selective abortions are occurring in the United States, particularly among immigrants from cultures that place a high importance on having male offspring.”
Jerry Cox, the head of the Arkansas Family Council, has pushed for the sex-selection ban claiming that people who move to the U.S. from overseas may come from a culture that expresses a preference for boys over girls. When have the sponsors of the bill actually communicated with the AAPI community on what we actually think?
“AAPI individuals should be trusted to make decisions about their bodies and families — the same as any other person in the United States.”
The bill itself cites countries such as China and India — affirming the anti-immigrant and anti-Asian stereotypes that drives HB 1434. As we work to resist the passage of HB 1434 and other sex-selective bans, we must also do the culture-work necessary to shift hearts and minds about what AAPI immigrant women and communities need in order to thrive.
AAPI families love their children — including their daughters. AAPI individuals should be trusted to make decisions about their bodies and families — the same as any other person in the United States. AAPI communities know what we need best in order to support and grow our families — we want equal pay for equal work, health care access, comprehensive immigration reform, and policies that support our gender identities.
Read more about the myths that support these offensive bills, and check out the “Defeating Sex-Selective Abortion Bans Toolkit” for valuable information and tools to add to your arsenal for resistance.
We didn’t ask for HB 1434, and we won’t tolerate politicians using non-discrimination language to restrict the rights of AAPI communities.
Stay connected with the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and get up-to-date information and actions on the sex-selective abortion bans we are fighting. Are you an AAPI Arkansas resident and want to push back against HB 1434? Email Aliya Khan at email@example.com for more information.