The Truth About PRENDA

I blogged about this on my midwifery blog.

What I didn’t say there is that as an adoptee, I get asked all the time why I’m pro-choice. “How I could be so ungrateful for my birth mother’s choice to continue her pregnancy and give me the gift of life” and then turn around and support abortion rights?”

Well, because I believe that it’s a fundamental human right for each person to make decisions about their own bodies. My gratitude for my life is a completely irrelevant point when it comes to upholding the legal and moral imperative for a woman’s right to self-determination over her body.

The issue of sex-selection is complex, and rooted in cultural norms that cannot simply be legislated away.  Changing the norms around sex-selection will require cultural change from within, and a complete overhaul of the way health care is provided in this country.

As Miriam Yeung so eloquently writes,

Numerous international agencies have firmly stated that abortion bans are not a viable solution to the problem of sex selection. Not only have bans been unsuccessful in other countries, but they also would violate the human rights of women. Instead, governments should help alleviate the root cause of son preference and sex selection — gender inequity. It is because of gender inequity that some women feel pressured to have sons. This is especially true in countries where men are the breadwinners and legal inheritors of property. However, there are effective strategies available: in South Korea, skewed sex ratios at birth began to level out as the country developed economically, property laws were changed, and a “Love Your Daughter” media campaign was launched.

Asian American women’s organizations are already doing the work to raise the status of women in the United States. We work hard every day to end domestic violence and sexual assault, build women’s economic power, and eradicate gender stereotyping. If H.R.3541 sponsors truly wanted to help women, they would start by following our lead, not by enacting a paternalistic and misguided law that would do more harm than good.

Asian American women already face grave health disparities and barriers to health access. Nearly 18 percent of Asian Americans and 24 percent of Native Hawaiians are uninsured while only 12 percent of the non-Hispanic, non-elderly white population is without insurance. Over 29 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander women have not had a mammogram for the past two years, and over 24 percent have not had a Pap Test in three years. We do not need another obstacle. This bill exacerbates disparities by further restricting access to comprehensive health care services and penalizing health care providers who serve women from our community.

H.R. 3541 is an attack on women in our community and we are speaking out. We will not be used as a weapon in the war on women.

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