Imagine being robbed of the chance of ever bearing children of your own and forced into an agreement by the government which would limit your chance of acquiring proper health care, resources or support. Well according to Angela Davis: Reproductive Rights, that was the reality for many women during 1930’s to the 1970’s. The practice of eugenics were widely accepted by political views and practiced through the United States which was adopted from “The Nazis Hereditary Health Law,” this practice created a new method of birth control. I understand and accept the use of birth control but to the extreme levels of leaving a woman infertile I don’t accept. What’s wrong with the government to place a high number of women at risk of infections, infertility and potential death?
The use of “compulsory sterilization as a means of eliminating the “unfit” sectors of the population” sounds more like a dramatic movie, oh wait that’s right the Hungry Games is similar to this historical event that eliminated many potential lives. I don’t agree with this method of birth control, an act of genocide or extermination of people, call it whatever you want to call it. In reality it’s a political act of power to perverse the “acceptable” and “loyal” followers and to “prevent the reproduction of mentally deficient persons,” what gives the government the right to choose who lives or dies? Angela Davis gives evidence on historical events that had stripped women of the right to bear children, The Relf sister’s were age 12 and 14 that underwent the operation, there other sister was 16 years old, with all together around 100,000 to 200,000 sterilizations had occurred during this process of population control.
The Department of Health, Education and Welfare had funded, encouraged and ordered the sterilization for many cases of youth and women within the welfare system. Abusing the right to act on behalf of a person, controls wither or not that person is capable or wealthy enough to have a child is unacceptable. Early white feminists should have looked at the intersectional analysis of the lower-class women within the systems; I could understand how angry the women of color would have been in this situation. Population control or not, this just pisses me off, I could relate because I have a child and although abortion was not my option it may be for others but to be placed in this position by the government is plain out wrong. I am pro-choice because I believe women should be able to make that decision, who said the government is the BOSS of our bodies.
There is a big difference between none-colored women and women of color that had been sterilized; 65 percent of sterilized women were black, 35 percent were white and by 1976 , 24 percent were Native. Some of the colored women hardly spoke English or no English at all, many of the women were poor, of color or mentally challenged and determined by the government unfit to have children. Racism within the reproduction rights argument that Angela Davis is examining is true, I agree with her article that women of color faced a higher risk of being practiced on. One out of four Native women within the Indian Health Services Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma would be sterilized while giving birth, is that normal? What gives the right for the Doctors to operate on their patients in exchange for services of the sterilization? You would think for all the discrimination, racism and genocide Native people have endured they would be exempted from this practice but apparently not.
Dr. Clovis Pierce had made his future patients with two or more children “submit” to the sterilization if they wanted his services and to deliver their babies, the women on welfare would be selected to this process. He said “tired of people running around and having babies and paying for them with my taxes” but all while forcing the patient to want proper health services or to place themselves and the child at danger. Clearly high professional ranking positions would be in a man’s power, such a Doctor right? If there were more female Doctors during this period in history do you think the percentage of sterilization would decrease? It was obvious of the first wave feminist movement when white women were given the right to vote that they held power but how much did the government grant to them? I think this period of sterilization in the 1930’s was just another distraction towards females to keep their minds, thoughts and actions on other issues, oppressions and practices.
What really captured my attention within the article were the stories of women, the statistics of colored women chosen for this medical method and the notion of a perfect picture family for native people who were suggested the proper family dynamitic within a pamphlet. A racist claim that children bring poverty and without them wealth could be reached through a sketch of a family with many children and one horse versus a family with one child and many horses. The population policy the U.S government practiced was clearly racist but this still did not justify the fact of the outcomes and all the lives of women they disrupted. All the attention is aimed at women within this sterilization abuse theory, where were the entire male’s focus in this policy? Is there even any? Or is it suggested that it’s the women’s responsibilities and that women should be the only primary focus?
Angela Davis article was a great read, every few sentences I was getting more heated about the issues around reproductive rights. I never really thought about it as being an issued or had a concern about what practices were or are out there. The education and knowledge of knowing was not a concern till now, I know there is something wrong with the big picture when I would be getting mad at the evidence within this article. And just to think they are still providing the sterilization to those women who can’t afford an abortion, this practice is still being encouraged to women in low-classes and essentially women of color feel the backlash of the propaganda of this ridiculous medical method. Ugh I can go on and on about the many issues related to the sterilization abuse, this is one heated topic for feminist to think about and act upon.
“Sterilization abuse must be ended”- Angela Davis