Supervisors to consider resolution opposing sex-selective abortion bans 

San Francisco would become the first jurisdiction in the country to go on record opposing sex-selective abortion bans if a resolution stating they perpetuate racial stereotypes, being introduced by Supervisor David Chiu today, is adopted by the Board of Supervisors.

Sex-selective abortion bans prohibit terminating a pregnancy on the basis of sex, and doctors who perform such abortions can face fines, jail time or lawsuits. The bans "encourage racial profiling of women by some medical providers," according to Chiu's resolution, and can lead to women being denied services.

"Lawmakers across the country have successfully advocated for sex-selective abortion bans by perpetuating false and harmful racial stereotypes that such laws are necessary to stop an influx of Asian immigrants from spreading this practice, and that Asian American communities do not value the lives of women," states the resolution, which Chiu will announce at City Hall today.

The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum has been fighting sex-selective abortion bans since 2008, when such legislation was first introduced in Congress by Arizona Republican Trent Franks. After failing to pass three times in the House of Representatives and once in the Senate, the legislation took flight in individual states and has become a growing trend, said Shivana Jorawar, the nonprofit's reproductive justice program director.

Sex-selective abortion bans have been introduced in 21 states and passed in eight and became the second-most proposed abortion ban in the country last year.

The nonprofit has been bringing Asian-American women to speak against the ban in states where the issue arises. The group, which co-authored a report in June to debunk myths around sex-selective abortions, then reached out to Chiu to propose a resolution because San Francisco is the home to a large Asian-American population.

"We wanted to do this on our terms, our own narrative and we didn't want to continue fighting the legislation in a way where we were only responding to the anti-choice rhetoric," Jorawar said.

The ban "reiterates some of the stereotypes that Asian women don't value their daughters at some level," posing concerns around gender equity, added Jenny Lam, director of programs for the San Francisco-based organization Chinese for Affirmative Action.

Chiu said he decided to introduce the resolution in light of the bans in other states as well as its recent introduction in California in May.

"This is to educate the public and states around the country about how pernicious this policy would be," he said. "And how this policy could lead to the denial of health care services to women and really stigmatize immigrant women in particular."

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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