January 22, 2016

WASHINGTON – Today, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) recognized the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which guarantees the legal right to have an abortion.

“Forty-three years later, Roe’s right remains elusive for far too many American women and their families,” said Kathy Ko Chin, APIAHF president and CEO. “Abortion providers remain subjected to burdensome regulations and attacks at the state level that serve only to mount unacceptable barriers to care. Many of the abortion restrictions moving through statehouses disproportionately affect low-income women and women of color, which create a hostile environment toward women’s health. Health equity and reproductive justice demand that all women should be able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, no matter what state they live in, how much money they make or the type of insurance they have.”

The most recent effort to deny comprehensive reproductive health care for women is Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, scheduled for argument before the Supreme Court on March 2. The case focuses on a Texas law passed in 2013 that added new requirements for abortion clinics, forcing many to close, and asks whether the law places undue burden on women’s access to abortion. At the same time, proactive legislation is continuing to be introduced in the House of Representatives to advance women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care. In a direct challenge to states passing abortion clinic regulations, the Women’s Health Protection Act would prohibit further laws like the Texas one, which are intended to shut down abortion clinics. In addition, The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act (EACH Woman Act) would protect and advance women’s health by repealing the Hyde Amendment, which has been included in federal appropriations each year since 1976 and bans federal funding for abortions except in the narrowest of cases.

Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women experience roadblocks to accessing the full range of high-quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate health care. Restrictions on health care access, which are not rooted in improving health care, serve only to add to these barriers and put health services out of reach for women who need them most. Nearly 19 percent of Hmong, Bangladeshi and Tongans live in poverty, along with nearly 1 million Asian American women. Asian American and Pacific Islander women have disproportionately high rates of abortion and lower rates of contraception use. For many of these women, access to culturally and linguistically appropriate, affordable, quality reproductive care, including abortion, remains out of reach.

APIAHF is committed to advancing the health and well-being of all Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, its territories and jurisdictions, and believes that all communities should have access to quality, affordable care that meets their needs.