Asian American Docs Oppose Prop 4

October 23, 2008

While some parents are throwing their support behind the measure, opponents — such as a group of Asian American community workers and medical professionals who protested Prop 4 this week — warn of the ramifications that would affect pregnant minors.

The Chronicle quotes Dr. Sophia Yen of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital:

"This law is very misleading. Rather than tell their parents, young people will buy Internet drugs to end the pregnancy, they will go to Mexico for an abortion, they will throw themselves down the stairs, they will do desperate things."

SF Bay peninsula newspaper The Almanac also says that Senator Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo and a team of health officials from Stanford Medical Center and the ACLU also oppose Prop 4, saying, "We hope that she [pregnant minor] can make that decision with her physician rather than force her to look at inappropriate or illegal ways of termination."

I'm glad that Asian Americans are taking a vocal stance for reproductive rights. But I wonder where the support for Prop 4 lies in the AA community? If you recall Harry's post on 57% of Asian American voters opposing California's gay marriage ban, it seemed like a great indicator of AA's views on equality.

But of course, there's always that 43%. There are AA supporters of the ban like the Family Keepers (check them out on Disgrasian's blog).

So now I'm on alert and wondering where the AA supporters of Prop 4 are. Are they hanging with the Family Keepers? Are they AA voters with teenage kids? In the Almanac article, Sen. Yee says that Prop 4 is especially important for AA households where "parents have a difficult time speaking openly about pregnancy and sex, and girls might be scared of defaming the family name so they would go to extreme lengths to keep it from their parents."


Sylvie Kim

contributing editor & blogger

Sylvie Kim is a contributing editor at Hyphen. She previously served as Hyphen's blog coeditor with erin Khue Ninh, film editor, and blog columnist.

She writes about gender, race, class and privilege in pop culture and media (fun fun fun!) at and at SF Weekly's The Exhibitionist blog. Her work has also appeared on Racialicious and Salon.



Propositions 4, 6, and 8 will be detrimental to the Asian American community. I've put a link to Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice and their voter guide with info on those three props.As for Proposition 4, Senator Yee's scenario is just the tip of the iceberg. In real situations, women are dealing with difficult issues, such as violence in the home, where notifying the parents would put them in harms way.When I did resources counseling near Sacramento, I knew a woman who had been molested by her only brother. Both of her parents had severe health problems, to the point that she realistically feared that the stress of her telling her parents would be physically detrimental. The last thing she wanted was to feel responsible for the death of a parent.Proposition 4 supposedly allows for the notification of another family member, but here's the catch. She would have to write down and detail how her parents had abused her, triggering a Child Protective Services report. Then notify another family member over 21. And for this young woman, she had no other family in the United States.Proponents of Proposition 4 also think that judicial bypass takes care of the rest. But on top of all that this woman was dealing with, she was terrified of telling her story to Americans of other ethnicities (doctors, counselors, judges, etc.) because she felt that it would make them look down on people of her ethnic group and contribute to a further marginalization of her people in the United States.Stories like this woman's are not uncommon. They are hard for many women to share, but that doesn't mean these situations aren't happening to real women.For the white, male, religious conservative, multi-millionaire proponents of this initiative, the situation of being a young, pregnant woman of color has never and will never be their reality.Prop 4 is a horrible initiative that would really endanger the safety of Asian American young women.Rather than endangering our sisters, we need to trust them as they grow into their independence. We need to realize that we can never know the intricacies of what each young woman is dealing with. Most importantly, we need to be there for them if they reach out to us for support.Don't use your vote against a sister. Vote no on Prop. 4.