South Dakota legislators openly discriminate against Asian immigrants to pass sex-selective abortion ban

Image w text that says: South Dakota: Where discriminating against Asians is ok! Is this what you want your state to be known for? Don't pass HR 1162

Image credit: National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum

South Dakota Representative Stace Nelson, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, apparently thinks it is totally ok to openly discriminate against Asian immigrants. Despite no evidence that sex-selective abortions are happening in the state at all, a sex-selective abortion ban passed the South Dakota House last week. One of the Representatives who voted for the ban, Representative Nelson had this to say:

“Many of you know I spent 18 years in Asia, and sadly, I can tell you that the rest of the world does not value the lives of women as much as I value the lives of my daughters.”

I’mma give you a second to just take that in.

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so damaging. You see, the truth is that the legislators who propose these kinds of measures have never cared about women’s lives, and these kinds of bans are further efforts to chip away at abortion access in dangerous xenophobic and racialized ways. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum calls these bans deceptive attempts to slip anti-choice legislation under the radar, and sheds light on this strategy:

We recognize these abortion bans as an underhanded tactic. Instead of ending inequality, they promote it by subjecting the motives of African American and AAPI women to scrutiny other women would not endure. The hypocrisy becomes even more clear when we look at who is supporting this bill. Many of the politicians supporting this type of legislation have voted against basic legislation for women, including the Violence Against Women’s Act and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

This is, of course, no different with Rep. Nelson, whose website indicates his anti-choice woman-hating agenda, which includes:

Support pro-life legislation to permanently end all taxpayer funding of abortion in all domestic and international spending programs, and defund Planned Parenthood and all other contractors and recipients of federal funds with affiliates that perform or fund abortions.


And Nelson isn’t the only South Dakota Republican who has xenophobic things to say in service of chipping away at the reproductive health care access of women of color. Don Haggar has these rich words:

“Let me tell you, our population in South Dakota is a lot more diverse than it ever was. There are cultures that look at a sex-selection abortion as being culturally okay. And I will suggest to you that we are embracing individuals from some of those cultures in this country, or in this state. And I think that’s a good thing that we invite them to come, but I think it’s also important that we send a message that this is a state that values life, regardless of its sex.”

Enraged yet? Especially if you live in South Dakota, tell them it is NOT OK to pass this racist abortion ban.

1bfea3e7449eff65a94e2e55a8b7acda-bpfullVerónica can’t believe these guys think we won’t see right through them.

New York, NY

Verónica Bayetti Flores has spent the last years of her life living and breathing reproductive justice. She has led national policy and movement building work on the intersections of immigrants' rights, health care access, young parenthood, and LGBTQ liberation, and has worked to increase access to contraception and abortion, fought for paid sick leave, and demanded access to safe public space for queer youth of color. In 2008 Verónica obtained her Master’s degree in the Sexuality and Health program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She loves cooking, making art, listening to music, and thinking about the ways art forms traditionally seen as feminine are valued and devalued. In addition to writing for Feministing, she is currently spending most of her time doing policy work to reduce the harms of LGBTQ youth of color's interactions with the police and making sure abortion care is accessible to all regardless of their income.

Verónica is a queer immigrant writer, activist, and rabble-rouser.

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