Guest post from Rachel
My thanks for the information and advocacy of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Trust Black Women, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the grassroots activism of SisterSong NYC who’s listserv provided the information to present this action, and those unidentified warriors whose words and wisdom I am drawing on for this post.
I’m writing today to ask my fellow women of colour reproductive justice activists and our allies to take a united stand against the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act,” a race and sex selection bill that goes before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution on Tuesday, December 6, 2011. I cannot repeat enough times the urgency of moving quickly to act in solidarity.
This is a federal version of that legislation that a coalition of Asian, Black, and women of colour organizations fought at the local level in Georgia, which attempts to portray the restriction of women of colour’s access to abortion and prenatal care as serving a ‘nobler’ human rights cause. This bill, like others before it, seeks to protect the “civil rights” of unborn fetuses by banning race- and sex-selection abortions. However, the underlying motivations are racist characterizations of entire communities:
- First, that Black women are selfish, irresponsible, and incapable of making reproductive decisions on their own behalf;
- Second, that Asian women mindlessly reproduce “son preference” and bring ‘dangerous values’ into the country.
This is patently untrue, and Black and Asian/Pacific Islander (API) women have consistently fought for the right to make decisions on if and when they will have children, based on the support networks and resources that are available in their communities. This bill attempts to drive another wedge between women and abortion and reproductive health practitioners. It will exacerbate many of the already-existing structural barriers to access that we must overcome to receive reproductive healthcare. It will put pressure our abortion care providers to conduct racial profiling on us, requiring them to second-guess our motivations in seeking abortions. It will do nothing to address the entrenched disparities that low-income women of color must navigate every day in seeking reproductive care. It does not contribute to or encourage cultural, grassroots-level change in Asian communities where we are already working to address the sexist roots of son preference.
This is a bill being put forward by members of Congress who consistently vote to decimate funding for reproductive health services and family support programs (see footnote below). This bill is funded by anti-abortion groups that have ties to racist billboard campaigns targeting Black and API communities.
The result of this bill is increased scrutiny of the reproductive decision-making of Black, Latina, and API women. This is being rushed through Congress on the back of a twisted appeal to “fetal civil rights,” even though the motivations for this legislation rest on racist and sexist characterizations of our communities. Again, this is a bill that seeks to mobilize arguments about the incapacity and dangerousness of women of colour making reproductive choices on their own behalf. It is an affront our rights to privacy, to bodily autonomy, and to mobilize in concert to create change and solidarity in our communities—based on our priorities and experiences, our visions for the future, and our agency.
If your organization is willing to stand in solidarity with us, please write to [sjorawar] @ [napawf.org] to have your name added to the written testimony against this disastrous bill. We need your signature by the end of today, December 5, so that it can be assembled and submitted for the Congressional Record. We have seen state versions of this bill and are still being targeted by the insulting media campaign attached to it. We have fought these efforts in the past and will continue to do so at the federal level. We represent the women and people of color this bill purports to protect, and we are announcing our unequivocal condemnation of it.
 This year alone, Congress members Chabot (R-OH), Franks (R-AZ), Pence (R-Ind.), and Smith (R-TX) voted to defund family planning, eliminate funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), reinstate the global gag rule, reinstate the D.C. abortion funding ban, ban abortion coverage in state health insurance exchanges, and allow providers to refuse abortion care even when a woman’s life is in danger.