Comments on “Reproductive Issues in Asian-American Communities”
April 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
I really enjoyed reading this essay, even though the topic was sobering. It was interesting to hear about the experience of a group that is almost completely ignored by mainstream media. We are so insular and monolingual in this country, so threatened by all things foreign, that we have extended it to our policy practices. Through our non-recognition of the need for specific culturally inclusive and sensitive services, we’re committing an act of hostility towards non-English speaking immigrants in this country. It’s insidious, and it’s a perfect example of structural violence. Our bureaucratic social welfare system comes installed with cracks for the “undesirables” to slip through.
What really struck me about the essay was the utter lack of interest displayed by all of the institutions Connie Chan encountered in doing anything on their own part to help these women in need. The health center wouldn’t provide an interpreter to accompany women to the abortion clinic or even give the women helpful information about where to go to obtain a safe, inexpensive abortion in this country, nor did they consider revising their stance, even after the author expressed her horror at their policy. And at the ob/gyn’s office, the doctor, realizing “how essential it was to have an interpreter present” during the abortion procedure, merely began to require that all non-English-speaking women have an interpreter. It doesn’t say whether the OB was intending to arrange for these services to be provided, but if not, that would be an additional financial and social burden on the women trying to get an abortion.
Finally, the women Ms. Chan was assisting completely defied the stereotypes promulgated by abortion opponents about who typically needs to obtain an abortion. These women were often married with several children, and would have kept their unborn child if at all possible. Unfortunately, their financial circumstances often prevented them from being able to responsibly add another child to their overall burden. They often were unable to obtain social services available to U.S. citizens, and unable to obtain jobs which require a certain level of proficiency in English, or certain work documents. It’s a catch-22. And now they’re being punished for being forced to make a devastatingly difficult decision? Really eye-opening text!