Target: Tom Horne, Arizona Attorney General
Goal: Stop using racial stereotypes to shame Black, Asian, and Pacific Islander women who choose to terminate their pregnancies.
All around the country, women must constantly fight for their right to access reproductive healthcare without shame or retribution. But the struggle is not equal for all women. Women of color face disproportionate resistance from conservative lawmakers and anti-abortion campaigns. Racist ads have condemned Black women for aborting the next president or committing “genocide” against their own race. This racism is even written into law. A state anti-abortion law in Arizona uses racist stereotypes to justify preventing women of color from receiving abortions.
The law, HB 2443, prevents women from seeking abortions based on the race or sex of the fetus. As the law was passing, its supporters claimed that higher rates of abortion among Black women were proof that women were aborting simply because their babies would be born Black—either as a sincere attempt to prevent the birth of more Black children or as an externally motivated racist plot. Either theory is absurd; higher abortion rates in Black communities have been tied to a lack of access to birth control and sexual health education, not an internally racist scheme.
Lawmakers also drew upon racist stereotypes of Asian and Pacific Islander (API) women when drafting this law. Arguing that cultural attitudes would make API women more likely to abort female fetuses than male ones, supporters of the bill sought to prevent women from aborting at all on the basis of imagined sex discrimination. These anti-abortion activists willingly perpetuate harmful stereotypes in an effort to control women’s medical decisions. “Far from preventing bias against women and girls, this law serves only to fuel suspicion and stereotypes about Asian women, their communities, and their culture,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
HB 2443 wields ugly racial stereotypes to stifle women’s voices. Claiming that all Black and API women who receive abortions are practicing discrimination against their unborn fetuses demonizes women of color while taking away their right to make decisions about their healthcare. Demand that Arizona overturn this disgusting law.
Dear Tom Horne,
Arizona’s current anti-abortion legislation doesn’t just restrict women’s control over their own bodies. It also makes use of ugly stereotypes about women of color to needlessly prevent abortions. HB 2443 was passed in an attempt to prevent women from aborting on the basis of the race or sex of their fetuses, but proponents of the law made it clear that it could be used to prevent women of color from having abortions whatsoever.
Claiming that high rates of abortion among Black women is evidence of internalized racism or an external racist plot is absurd and demonizes women who need access to reproductive healthcare. Unwanted pregnancies lead to an increased need for abortion, not racism against unborn fetuses. Limited access to birth control and sexual education has always been the defining factor in abortion rates among different socioeconomic strata.
Supporters of HB 2443 also drew from the harmful stereotype that Asian and Pacific Islander women are more likely to want a male child than a female one. Applying this logic to the individual cases of API women seeking abortions would rule out half of all needed procedures, since any women who wishes to abort a female fetus could be said to be discriminating on the basis of sex. This law enables gross mistrust of women of color as they navigate medical decisions about their own bodies.
Don’t let Arizona demonize women of color who need access to reproductive healthcare. All women have the right to make decisions about their health without judgment from medical professionals or the state. Overturn this reprehensible law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Wing-Chi Poon via Wikimedia Commons