What is sterilization? Well you can imagine that the word sterile means clean, or rid of bacteria. Comparing it to women’s rights, it is also known as not being able to produce children. Sterilization is a medical procedure where after the procedure, the patient is left unable to conceive for the rest of their life. In history, the United States has had many cases involving the forced sterilization of minority women, usually targeting women that were highly sexually active, or produced too many children. Scientists, and doctors believe that sterilization is a way to control overpopulation.
In a documentary called “No Mas Bebes”, many untold stories are brought to light by multiple immigrant Latina mothers and grandmothers that were affected by the sterilization process performed by the LA County Hospital. Many of these women spoke of the similar experiences they shared, an experience that took away their reproductive rights completely. Because these women were immigrants and some had kids before, they were forced into signing a sterilization release contract during labor. Many of these women look back and remember the high pain they were in when the doctors told them to sign the form before they could proceed with the birth. Some of these women woke up and didn’t even recall signing the papers due to how incoherent they were during labor. These women sued the LA doctors that were involved in this sterilization process against Latina immigrant women.
The articles “Sexual Violence as a Tool of Genocide” by Smith and “Killing the Black Body” by Dorothy Roberts covered the history and the United States involvement in forced sterilization among Native American women as well minority women fighting for their reproductive rights. As said by Smith, the reason for this sterilization was because american society, “white” society, thought out Native American women to be dirty, alcoholics, “torture” to white men, and a sin. Through the 1970’s, assisted under U.S. government help, 25-50% of Native women were sterilized. A legislation that was passed in 1974 to protect women under these circumstances, the abuse kept continuing especially towards Native women and overall women of color or the women that doesn’t fit the general “women” or “mother”, or even being a minority. When a woman defines herself as a minority but then is reproductively restricted based on her color, how can she feel positive in taking over motherhood? How can she reconstruct her social identity?
Forced sterilization affects many women’s lives and families. Not being able to conceive a child and being forced to do so is something every woman should have control over, especially if it has to do with our bodies. This highly goes against reproductive justice as well as women’s justice. I find that there are many other ways to reduce over population other than sterilizing women, like educating young women all around the world about sex; how it works, how can you get pregnant, etc. I find that depending on the area, the community, sex education varies and when a women is not adequately educated on sex the risk of unwanted pregnancy, abortion or sterilization could occur, when it could be helped by having knowledge about it.