By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Several Asian American leaders and civil rights groups are criticizing last week’s historic Supreme Court overturning of Roe v. Wade as “devastating” and “backwards.”
The 6-3 vote essentially reverses a five-decade-old historic court precedent that granted women the constitutional right to obtain an abortion.
Seattle University law professor Sital Kalantry—an expert in human rights and feminist legal theory and Indian American—said, “With the roots of Roe v. Wade pulled from the ground, rights that depend on the right to privacy protections are called into question. In Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, he notes that in future cases, they should reconsider a woman’s rights to contraception, gay people’s right to intimate acts, and non-heterosexual people’s right to marriage.”
The Japanese American Citizens League decried what it called a “heinous decision.”
“This ruling marks a dark turn in our nation’s history, and further drives home the point that women and those with female reproductive organs remain second-class citizens,” it said in a statement.
“The implications of this act stand to not only impact cisgender women, but the trans community, communities of color, and many others who are affected by systemic oppression and rely upon rights not explicitly granted in the constitution. The SCOTUS has not only ripped away a constitutional right, but sentenced millions of people to inhumane living conditions, and in some cases, death.”
A day after the Supreme Court ruling, a large crowd of Asian Americans gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for a multicultural march in support of racial justice and reproductive health rights.
The Unity March included more than 50 Asian American nonprofit organizations and other diverse groups. The D.C. event was billed as the first national rally to be led by Asian Americans.
Anh Nguyen, 17, a member of OCA-Greater Houston, an Asian American advocacy group, held signs that read “Proud to be Asian” and “Climate Justice = Reproductive Justice.”
Paul Cheung, a spokesperson for the march, said that the overturn of Roe v. Wade will hit Asian American communities especially hard.
“This is another example of how historically marginalized communities like Asian Americans are having their rights diminished,” Cheung told NBC News. “This is not the end. The Unity March is a call to action to advance meaningful change for Asian American and other historically excluded communities to ensure the safety, security, and prosperity for all of our communities.”
The Guttmacher Institute, a research group supporting abortion rights, says poor or low-income women represent 75% of abortion patients.
Isra Pananon Weeks, interim executive director and chief of staff of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF), said many Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women work in low-wage, front-line service jobs with no health insurance or paid medical leave.
Abortion care is “riddled with language barriers, cultural stigmas, and low rates of insurance coverage among our most vulnerable community members” and traveling and getting an abortion was already “difficult if not impossible,” Weeks said.
“Gutting Roe cuts off access to abortion care and puts the well-being and financial stability for millions of AAPI women and families at tremendous risk,” Weeks said.
John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said his organization filed an amicus brief in this case with NAPAWF “because of our concern for the Asian American and broader immigrant community. Given that Asian Americans are among the fastest-growing populations nationwide with nearly two-thirds of the population being foreign-born, we have grave concerns about the impact this decision will have on our communities.”
Yang added, “We will need to come together to find a way to support our communities while we explore every course of action to reclaim this fundamental human right.”
King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg has joined more than 80 other prosecutors nationwide to not prosecute abortions.
“As King County’s Prosecuting Attorney, I want to reassure the people of King County that my commitment on the issue of reproductive rights is unwavering,” he said in a statement. “I have never—and will never—use my discretion to criminalize personal medical decisions. As a private and concerned citizen, I will also continue to support other organizations fighting for human dignity and fundamental privacy from governmental overreach into our lives.”
Satterberg and other like-minded prosecutors—collectively representing nearly 87 million people from 28 states and territories and the District of Columbia, including nearly 27 million from 11 states where abortion is now banned or likely to be banned—argued in a joint statement that using limited criminal justice resources to prosecute personal healthcare decisions runs counter to their obligation to pursue justice and promote public safety.
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.