This article was published on Alliance for Justice's blog Justice Watch on May 14, 2019.
In the fall of 1895, Wong Kim Ark had just returned to San Francisco from visiting his parents, wife and oldest son in China. He had been born in San Francisco; it was his birthplace and his home. He had visited China before and had had no problems returning home. But this trip would be different. Immigration authorities denied him entry, forcing Wong to return to the steamship on which he had arrived. Little did he know that he would spend the next four months on the San Francisco Bay, waiting to find out if he would be allowed to enter the country of his birth.
Nearly 125 years later, many Americans have never heard of Wong Kim Ark or his landmark Supreme Court case. Yet, his story and his case are deeply relevant today, illustrating how vital our courts are in upholding our constitutional and human rights in the face of rising xenophobic and racist sentiment. As we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage month, it is important to reflect on the critical contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have made to this nation’s legal history amidst a backdrop of racism and xenophobic laws, policies and courts, and how that history connects to our current fight to protect our courts.
If allowed to take effect, the Trump administration's birth control rules would hit especially hard in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
This piece was published by Rewire on January 28, 2019.
OiYan Poon, a former professor at Loyola University Chicago, distinctly remembers the shock and fear she felt when Loyola informed her in 2014 that it would no longer provide birth control coverage as part of its health-care plan, which covered hundreds of individuals across the campus.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required employers to provide contraceptive coverage without a co-pay, religious nonprofits could opt out of the requirement on the basis of their religious objections. Loyola, a Catholic and Jesuit university, had decided to opt out. Loyola employees were informed that they could receive birth control coverage directly from the insurance company that provided Loyola’s health insurance, but the types of birth control that were fully covered were much more limited. Poon’s medication was not on the list of ones that were covered. This left her torn: Should she stay on the university’s health-care plan and either change her birth control method or pay out of pocket for the one she was using, or transition to her spouse’s plan?
Poon decided to stay on the university’s plan, as she and her partner chose to start a family around that time—but she continued to feel the effects of Loyola’s policies, which were influenced by its religious views. While trying to get pregnant, Poon miscarried during the first trimester and needed to have a procedure done to remove the tissue. During this emotional time, she was forced to endure repeated intrusive questions from an insurance company representative who insisted on verifying the purpose of the procedure to make sure it aligned with the employer’s coverage.
Poon’s story illustrates the harm that many women will likely experience if the Trump administration’s new birth control coverage rules are permitted to take effect. Thanks to federal judges, the rules have been temporarily blocked, but that doesn’t mean our worries are over. The administration appears more than willing to continue trying to take away our birth control access until it succeeds.
Cases to Watch: Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky, Inc. v. Commissioner of Indiana State Department of Health
Currently under consideration for review by the Supreme Court is a case from the Seventh Circuit, Planned Parenthood of Indiana & Kentucky, Inc. v. Commissioner of Indiana State Department of Health, in which the plaintiff has challenged an Indiana law that would make it a crime (and impose civil liability) for a provider to perform or attempt to perform an abortion where the reason for the abortion is based on the sex, disability, or race of the fetus.* These types of abortion bans are often referred to as “reason-based bans” or “reason bans.” The district court found in favor of the plaintiff and the Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding that the reason bans were complete bans on pre-viability abortions and, thus, unconstitutional under Roe and its progeny. If taken up by the Court, it will be the first time the Supreme Court considers reason-based bans on abortion.
The case is critical because the state of Indiana is arguing that its reason bans do not implicate Roe and its progeny, in an attempt to further gut the right to abortion under Roe. There is no question that our fundamental rights are at stake if the Supreme Court agrees to grant review.
However, missing from the arguments in the case and the overall considerations of the court is the harmful impact of sex and race-selective abortion bans on people of color, including Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls. These bans are based on, as well as perpetuate, harmful stereotypes about women of color and encourage providers to suspect and racially profile women of color when they seek reproductive care.
by the NAPAWF Legal Team
AP(Eye) on the Courts is our law blog written by NAPAWF’s legal team. The blog highlights and discusses significant legal cases and updates, particularly those that impact AAPI women and women of color regarding reproductive, immigrant, and economic justice.