Supervisor Chiu argues sex-selective abortion bans discriminate against Asian American women


San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu announced a resolution to the board of supervisors today opposing sex-selective abortion bans, stating that the bans are rooted in the assumption, not evidence, that Asian American communities are exercising sex-selection in favor of males.

Chiu’s resolution comes following the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act introduced by state Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, earlier this year. Grove’s bill, which has not been enacted, is one of more than 60 bills aiming to stop sex-selective abortions introduced since 2009 at the state and federal level in the U.S.

Shivana Jorawar, reproductive justice program director at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum stood with Chiu, and a broad group of women’s rights and civil rights organizations, today in opposition of the bans. She said that sex-selective abortion laws are supported by groups and individuals opposed to reproductive rights and legislators who are against abortion.

Jorawar said sex-selective abortions, the practice of attempting to control the sex of one’s offspring in order to achieve a desired sex, is not protecting the life of one gender above the other in the U.S. as a result of increased economic equality and access to education. 

She said in Asia, particularly China, where for three decades the government enforced a one-child-per-family policy, preference for males over females was a cultural norm.

However, Jorawar said there is no evidence that Asian American women are aborting female offspring in the United States more frequently than male offspring.

Chiu said today sex-selective abortion bans can “lead to the denial of reproductive health care services to women by some medical providers and lead to the further stigmatization of women, particularly Asian American women.”

Sex-selective abortions are currently banned in eight U.S. states as well as the countries of China, Kosovo, Nepal and Vietnam, according to a report prepared by the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, in partnership with the NAPAWF and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California at San Francisco. 

The report also states that national data of sex ratios at birth of foreign-born Chinese, Indians and Koreans indicates that these groups have more female babies overall than white Americans, challenging ban supporters who say they are fighting for gender equality.

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