Saturday, April 23, 2016

Women of Color Speak Out Against PRENDA

Rewire (April 21, 2016): Congressional Testimony: Anti-Choice Measure Would Turn People of Color Into 'Suspects in the Exam Room,' by Kanya D'Ameida,

At last week's Congressional Hearing for the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, Miriam Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum was the only witness invited to testify against the bill.  This week, 56 people of color, who have had abortions, sent a letter to Congress adding their voices in opposition to the bill.

Introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, the bill seeks to impose criminal penalties on providers who perform abortions knowing that they are sought on the basis of the fetus’ race or sex.

It also seeks to criminalize anyone who coerces a person into seeking a race- or sex-selective abortion; anyone who raises funds for the procedure; or anyone who transports a woman into the United States or across state lines to obtain the abortion—and imposes a penalty ranging from a fine to a five-year prison term.

The letter states that the bill singles out the reproductive choices of women of color for scrutiny and would undermine their relationship with their health care providers.   The bill is based on the presumption that Asian-American communities have  a preference for male children despite the fact that research actually shows that Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have more girls on average than white counterparts.

In her testimony last week, Miriam Yeung criticized the bill for promoting stereotypes that "Black women are unable to make reproductive health decisions for their own families" because it accuses "Black women of being irresponsible and, worse, intentionally deselecting babies who share their own race" and that "Asian-American families do not value the lives of their girl children."  Rather than pushing PRENDA, Yeung encouraged Congress to 

to support racial equality in a real way: by addressing health-care disparities in communities of color, and protecting the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship by supporting open, honest communication with one’s medical provider—which we know to be critical to quality medical care.  This bill promotes the exact opposite—forcing doctors to act as police interrogators in their exam rooms, ultimately making women more reluctant to share their personal experiences for fear of their private information being made public. When medically accurate, safe, and nonjudgmental patient counseling is taken away, women—especially those vulnerable to domestic violence or trafficking—lose the chance to seek help from their health care providers.

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