A new generation can now hear from some of the women coerced into sterilization at Los Angeles County General Hospital in the 1970s in the documentary No Más Bebés (“No More Babies”), airing on PBS tonight.
As a continuing issue, the quiet, day-to-day use of sterilization as a weapon to infringe upon reproductive rights—especially those of disabled people—rarely bubbles up into the public consciousness.
“You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. … Then we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to (reproduce) or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job,” Russell Pearce, the vice president of Arizona’s Republican Party, said on Sunday.
The Obama administration announced another change to the religious accommodation to the birth control benefit, and predictably conservatives hate it.
The bill was introduced early this year after the Center for Investigative Reporting found that women in California prisons were being sterilized under potentially illegal circumstances.
After winning a settlement that opened the door for thousands of women to initiate malpractice lawsuits against Dalkon Shield, the IUD that caused my sterilization, I naively thought we had seen the end of sterilization atrocities. Unfortunately, that is not so, at least in California.
Modern Mississippi freedom fighters must remain committed to Hamer’s legacy of bridging voting and reproductive rights into a comprehensive reproductive justice effort to protect Black women and other populations that are vulnerable to violations of both.
The willingness of courts to impose the kind of restrictions at issue in this case should raise some serious concerns for reproductive rights activists.
The Medicaid sterilization consent rules require a minimum 30-day waiting period to get individuals’ written informed consent prior to sterilization—a critical step in helping underserved women to obtain true reproductive justice, which remains an elusive goal.
What is often lost in Black History Month are the contributions of Black women and the present-day concerns of all Black people in the United States.