Immigrant Women Stand United in Opposition to Race-based Abortion Ban
Today, the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) expressed disappointment over the advancement of the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act” (H.R. 3541 or PRENDA). The Act was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee and will likely come to a floor vote soon. If passed, PRENDA would demonize women and people of color in an effort to restrict access to abortion care—a dangerous distraction when the country continues to face real and pressing challenges.
NCIWR Steering Committee members National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) are joined in opposition to the deceptively-named bill, originally titled the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act,” introduced by Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) in December 2011. PRENDA is a clear attempt to limit a woman’s access to abortion care, wrapped disingenuously in the language of civil rights. The bill prohibits abortion based on the sex or race of the fetus and would impose severe penalties on abortion providers, requiring them to racially profile each patient and try to determine her reasons for seeking an abortion.
Miriam Yeung, executive director of NAPAWF, stated that “PRENDA is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. PRENDA attacks the very communities it purports to protect and perpetuates anti-immigrant sentiment by unfairly stereotyping Asian women for having dangerous, ‘backward’ values and practices. This is deeply offensive to our community. PRENDA also ignores that abortion bans have been proven ineffective for ending sex selection, and that API organizations are working to end gender inequity, the root cause of son preference, in effective and culturally competent ways.”
PRENDA sponsors rejected amendments that would advance racial and gender equity—including one that would create an Office of Pregnant Women to ensure all women have proper prenatal care.
“Proponents of this bill pretend concern about the well-being of women, children, and communities of color and offer race and sex selection abortion bans as an answer. Yet none of these policymakers have supported legislation that would fundamentally address racial inequalities or gender discrimination,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH. “Immigrant women face no shortage of obstacles to accessing health care and this bill would make a bad situation worse. Our leaders should focus on bringing dignity and justice to our communities, not attacking our sisters and mothers.”
As is often the case, states have been taking a cue from the federal legislature and NCIWR is monitoring these bills as well. Although reproductive justice advocates defeated a similar measure in Georgia in 2010, Arizona passed a version of the bill in 2011 and Florida is currently considering a similar measure.
To learn more about the coalition and about immigrant women, please visit http://nciwr.wordpress.com/