On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion that had been defended for nearly 50 years. In response to this decision, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) co-hosted a virtual briefing to discuss the details of the SCOTUS decision and how it will affect AAPI communities. The event, which this reporter attended, was moderated by NAPAWF’s Isra Pananon Weeks, took place on June 29, and featured a panel of five speakers.
Weeks introduced the event by stating that the ruling is a “direct attack on communities of color, including Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” and emphasized that the reversal of Roe v. Wade will make the path to abortion even more difficult for the AAPI population. who already struggles with barriers like language barriers, lack of health insurance, and cultural stigma around reproductive health.
This was followed up by AAJC’s Niyati Shah who contextualized the decision. cha
he summarized the ruling, saying that Justice Alito issued the majority opinion with the support of Justices Thomas, Barrett, Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. “Revealingly, Judge Alito [in his opinion] it fails to recognize how the United States Constitution was written without granting rights to women. It also doesn’t recognize how women couldn’t vote until the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920… It’s not a coincidence that as women gained a voice and the right to vote, abortion laws began to change,” Shah said. In addition, it scuttled Justice Thomas’s concurring opinion, which argued that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” the Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell rulings, earlier cases that respectively allowed the right to access contraception, same-sex relationships, and relationships between people of the same sex. sex marriage.
The other panelists spoke about the intersectionality of the right to abortion, the importance of
turn to the community at this time and the next steps to regain the right to abortion. NAPAWF member Jeana Nam recounted her personal experience with abortion at age 21 and emphasized the importance of fighting the stigma surrounding abortions. “We fight stigma by sharing our abortion stories…and being radically, unapologetically and publicly pro-choice,” Nam said. He is also a board member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights, citing that most People who abort identify themselves as religious and specifically Christian. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 62% of people who have abortions identify as religious.
Nadia Hussain from the advocacy group MomsRising spoke about how Roe’s overturn
it will affect women’s economic prosperity and stability, citing the Reuters statistic that women denied an abortion are nearly four times more likely to be living in poverty four years later. In addition, he highlighted how this decision will further endanger already vulnerable populations, such as his own Bangladeshi American community and minority groups in general, citing the fact that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of all other high-income nations. Black women, especially, are 2.5 times more likely to die in childbirth than white women.
Representative Anna Eskamani of the Florida House of Representatives expressed what action is
necessary to restore the right to abortion. “There is no easy solution to restore reproductive freedom in this country,” Eskamani said. “It will not be resolved through executive orders, it will not even be resolved through an election cycle. This will take all of us, coming together to break down the stigma of abortion and share our stories, to elect the right people into office…and hold accountable those who wish to ban abortion.” President Biden has alluded to taking executive action to restore Roe v. Wade, but he hasn’t made any concrete plans yet. NAPAWF’s Seri Lee also outlined action items, emphasizing that the fight for abortion rights needs to be approached from a myriad of different angles, as it is an interconnected issue with many others, such as voting rights and LGBTQIA rights. She said the most important work the AAPI community needs to do in the wake of this decision, however, is “having open conversations with people in our communities about abortion,” especially in culturally relevant ways. Lee mentioned apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook as platforms that should be used to engage with members of the community to destigmatize conversations about abortion.
The speakers at this event reported that they remain hopeful, especially in
the fight for abortion rights and that it is important to build strong communities now more than ever. “This is not the end, this is the beginning because we will get it right back… and we will win,” Hussain said.
This reporter spoke with Shah, who reflected that the motivation for this briefing was
“help members of our community understand how such a ruling can affect them and what can be done to protect reproductive rights and care for people in this country.” Shah continued, “Advancing Justice: AAJC has always fought for the civil and human rights of not only Asian Americans, but all people of color who have been marginalized in our country. It was important for us to tell those in the webinar, and those who will listen later, that they are not alone and that there are organizations that will fight for them.”