PRENDA: Why should a midwife care?

Earlier this week, Miriam Yeung, ED of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum wrote on RH Reality about HR 3541.

HR 3541, the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) will be put to a vote in the House. PRENDA would ban abortions sought based on the sex of a fetus, threaten doctors with up to five years in prison for performing such a procedure, and even require doctors and nurses to report women whom they suspect are seeking an abortion for these reasons. While the bill is cloaked in the language of civil rights for women, this bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Rather than lifting the status of women, this bill is nothing more than another hypocritical attempt to ban abortions in this country – this time using Asian women as the excuse.

This is essentially just one more bill that is distracting us from the real issues at hand.  As Miriam points out, sex selection is a major concern…but a top-down bill is not going to change that. The real change is a cultural one, and that has to come from within.

So why should a midwife care?  Because the real issue here is not whether sex-selective abortions are happening.  The real issue is how Asian-American women face disparities in access and quality of care that lead to poorer health outcomes:

Nearly 18 percent of Asian Americans and 24 percent of Native Hawaiians are uninsured while only 12 percent of the non-Hispanic, non-elderly white population is without insurance. Over 29 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander women have not had a mammogram for the past two years, and over 24 percent have not had a Pap Test in three years. We do not need another obstacle. This bill exacerbates disparities by further restricting access to comprehensive health care services and penalizing health care providers who serve women from our community.

Take the time to contact your representative and let them know you want them to focus on the real issues of health disparities.  The vote has been changed from today to tomorrow, there’s still time. I’ll be doing the same.

Update: The bill was rejected on Thursday, 246 to 168. Choice quote to keep us motivated to oppose such measures?

“I don’t support abortion for gender selection,” said Representative Diana DeGette, Democrat of Colorado and an opponent of the legislation. “I don’t know anyone who does. Maybe that’s because there is no problem in this country of abortion for gender selection.”

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