Education. Energy. Economy. Since I announced my candidacy for California State Senate, I have been laser focused on these three issues. Why? Because, without a doubt, these are the issues that matter most to Californians, regardless of party affiliation.
“Stay on message, don’t talk about that, avoid third rails, and don’t talk about social issues!” I’ve heard all of this and more from my colleagues, friends, and even staff. But today I realized, if I’m not in this race to make a difference, to speak my mind, and to stand up for what is right, then there really is no point in me running.
So today, I say the heck with the “3 Es.” Today, I am going to speak to you from my heart about an issue that, although it isn’t garnering much attention, deserves discussion and public input. That issue is “Gender-Selection Abortion.”
Not too long ago, my team and I reviewed legislation proposed by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R- Bakersfield) that would ban “Gender-Selection Abortion,” officially known as AB 2336. This legislation was defeated by the Assembly Health Committee on May 6, 2014 – that’s right, it never even made it to the Assembly floor! My opponent, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) is a member of this committee and voted against AB 2336. The democratic process was stifled, yet again; and though I whole-heartedly oppose “gender-selection” abortion, I am most disheartened by the fact that a small group’s decision can have such a big effect on such an underrepresented group, the unborn.
We are so often told that governing should be about compromise, weighing pros and cons, and engaging both sides of the aisle. The subject of abortion is one of – if not the most – polarizing issues in America.
A CNN Poll taken in March, 2014 further displays the split on this issue. Other polling indicates an overwhelming majority (86%) of Americans oppose “Gender-Selection Abortion.” A significant percentage of Democrats believe that abortion should have some limits, while only a small portion of Republicans believe abortion should be entirely illegal. Basically, it would appear a middle ground has been found on the issue of abortion.
Now, make no mistake. I’m pro-life and I’m not afraid to say so. But, what I am more upset by is the continuous race-baiting by so many politicians. Recently, San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu, also an Assembly candidate, attacked Assemblywoman Grove’s efforts to ban gender-selection abortion in a resolution he proposed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In a press release he said, “The rhetoric used by legislators advocating these measures is perpetuating racial stereotypes, is deeply offensive, and can lead to the denial of health care services to women. No woman should ever be scrutinized by her doctor based on her racial or ethnic background, but that is exactly what a sex-selective abortion ban encourages.”
Why do politicians continuously pull the race card when an argument isn’t going their way? Argue your case in favor of choice, argue your case against parental notification, and even make your case for why you think bills like AB 2336 are bad for California. But do it based on facts and data.
As you may know, my campaign began receiving attention after SCA-5 became a conversation-starter around every kitchen table within the Asian-American community. This issue forced Asian-Americans, many who had been loyal to the Democratic Party for years, to take a second look at an alternative choice. But never once did I think that the Democrats who supported SCA-5 were racist! Mr. Chiu has decided to attack those fighting to protect the unborn as racist. Although he may not agree with their stance on abortion, these passionate people, particularly Assemblywoman Grove, are anything but racist.
I’ve been proud to get to know Assemblywoman Grove during this campaign. She is a military veteran, a small business owner, the mother of five, and a loving wife. She has selflessly committed her time and energy to bettering her community and improving the lives of millions of Californians. She’s a good person, a strong public servant, and she deserves Mr. Chiu’s respect, regardless of whether he agrees with her politics. And I personally call on Mr. Chiu to apologize for his remarks.
As Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle pondered, “I wondered if Chiu introduced his resolution to boost his profile as he runs for Assembly.” To Mr. Chiu this is politics as usual; to Assemblywoman Grove, Mr. Chiu’s remarks were an unsubstantiated attack on her character.
Mr. Chiu should recognize Assemblywoman Grove’s efforts as noble and certainly not racist. As a Taiwanese-American, I’m appalled by his attempt to characterize a very difficult, very polarizing debate in racial terms. Even if we cannot agree on that issue, let’s embrace the opportunities that have been presented to us in America to have an open and honest political debate. We may not agree on “gender-selection” abortion, but a little class in the discussion could go a long way in establishing a more collegial environment for governing. Crying racism every time someone doesn’t like your agenda minimizes the voices of Asian-Americans and furthers the narrative that we are just another “minority demographic” that is willing to take the bait when the race card is pulled.
The people of SD-10, the Bay Area, and California deserve a leader who is open to all good ideas, whether proposed by a Republican or a Democrat, an African-American or an Asian. Good policy knows no boundaries, and the people of California deserve a State Legislature that will work for them collaboratively, leaders that will reach across party lines for the betterment of the state, and leaders who aren’t afraid to say, “I was wrong.” Mr. Chiu was wrong, and the people of California deserve to hear those words from him.
Peter Kuo is a first time candidate running in California State Senate District 10. Peter is a small business owner, job creator, husband and father of three. A Taiwanese immigrant, Kuo has lived the American dream and is running so others will have the same opportunities he has had.