PSC Brown Bag Seminar: Emma Zang
The PSC Brown Bag Series runs live and on Zoom this fall, Mondays from 12 to 1:10 p.m.
Emma Zang of Yale Sociology presents: Sex-Selective Abortion Bans: Structural Stigma, Xenophobia, and the Birth Outcomes of Asian Immigrants
The pro-life movement to restrict abortion access in the United States has achieved significant legislative victories in recent years. Prohibition of abortions sought based on the fetus’ sex, known as sex-selective abortion bans (SSABs), are often overlooked in these endeavors. While abortion laws are not traditionally associated with immigration, advocates for sex-selection bans explicitly invoke invidious xenophobic stereotypes about Asian immigrants and their alleged penchant for aborting female babies because of a cultural preference for sons. This paper explores the potential health consequences of such policies. Examining 2005–2019 natality data from the National Vital Statistics System using a triple-difference strategy, we find that SSABs had a negative effect on Asian immigrant infant birth outcomes—specifically, birth weight and gestational age. We argue that the successful enactment of SSABs helped amplify a negative social climate in which anti-Asian stereotypes and sentiments became more salient in Asian immigrants’ everyday lives. We thereby advance the concept of structural stigma in the argument that social policies can amplify negative health effects for vulnerable minorities by fostering an environment that deepens their stigmatized status.