READ MORE: The U.S. Deported a Million of Its Own Citizens During the Great Depression. “Some people think, including myself, sterilization is such a life-altering procedure, and there’s such a long history of forcibly or coercively pushing people to sterilization for unjust political reasons, that it’s impossible to come to a decision, to craft a policy of voluntary sterilization in prison. “The origins of the movement for birth control is both a feminist movement and a eugenicist movement, and that’s going on in the 1920s and ’30s, and was only discredited after the Nazi exterminations and their regime of eugenics.” But in the United States, the eugenics project goes back further—“built on top of the enslavement of African people and the denial of their reproductive autonomy altogether.”, immigrant women were reportedly sterilized, there are living, of state eugenics programs fighting still for recognition and accountability. Buck’s was the first of thousands of such sterilizations in the state before the practice was ended in 1974. As Manian writes, “all of the ten cases involved women whose primary language was Spanish; each of the women underwent a tubal ligation after childbirth by cesarean section. “The only way to ensure the bodily autonomy of these women is to free them from detention, free them from prison—that’s the only way to do it.”. In Congressional hearings in 1926 over immigration restriction, Louisiana Congressman Riley Wilson argued that open immigration policies would be disastrous to the nation, because even if Mexicans returned to their home country, “they have children, and a child born in California is an American citizen.”, The defeat of Nazi Germany didn’t end the influence of eugenics on U.S. public-health practices. Antonia Hernández, a recent UCLA law school graduate, and Charles Nabarrete, two Mexican American attorneys at the nearby Model Cities Center for Law and Justice, took on the case, interviewing, as Hernández later said, almost a hundred women. The complaint was first reported by LawandCrime.com, a website run by attorney and television personality Dan Abrams. V is for Virginia. “To discourage childbearing by people who are receiving government public assistance—that’s written into laws in many states.” Efforts to expand women’s reproductive choices have been entangled, too, with this ideology. Zwangssterilisation und „Euthanasie“ , Frankfurt/M. The notion that Mexicans overburden the government, particularly in health, education and welfare, continued to drive legislation in the 1990s. Just six years ago, in 2014, the state began, reparations to those survivors. The Eugenics Movement And Forced Sterilization In 1924, a 17-year-old girl was admitted to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded. “All of us in medicine take an oath first and foremost to do no harm, and part of that process is providing them informed consent.”, That’s the issue most impossible to resolve—consent—so long as women remain detained in this facility. The complaint concerning the Georgia ICE detention center referred to one gynecologist as being a “uterus collector.” He was unnamed, but Tina Vasquez at Prism has identified him as gynecologist Mahendra Amin, affiliated with Coffee Regional Medical Center and Irwin County Hospital in Georgia. In the complaint, the allegation about the high rate of hysterectomies is listed as part of the fourth section detailing the “general lack of medical care,” following three sections that mostly focused on lack of proper COVID-19 protocols. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. 1849 In his chilling new book, Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America, scholar Steve Ross chronicles how Hitler and American Nazis planned to take over the United States, using Los Angeles as their stronghold. It’s the kind of ethical problem, Roberts continued, that led her to abolition. Other women mentioned in the complaint describe the conflicting information they received from various staff about what procedures they needed and what they entailed. The case was unpublished (any decision can be), but San Francisco School of Law professor Maya Manian has contributed some shocking and must-read scholarship on the case. Eventually the so-called Madrigal Ten brought suit, alleging that doctors at the medical center coercively sterilized each of them between June 1971 and March 1974. 3. As Manian notes in her article, “only ten years after California’s official apology for abusive sterilization practices, an independent investigation found that the state’s prison system had sterilized almost one hundred and fifty female inmates—most of whom were low-income women and women of color— without proper approval.” In other words, the allegations from Georgia, while not yet fully investigated or corroborated, are horrific, and they are most certainly not without ample precedent. Earlier this week, multiple human rights organizations filed a complaint on behalf of women detained at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Georgia. Allegations of forced sterilization are often complicated to prove, as the procedure is often connected to other medical procedures and it can be difficult to determine whether it was medically required and whether consent was acquired ethically. Georgina Hernández later recalled: “And this lady came, I don’t remember seeing her face, I just remember her voice telling me, ‘Mijita, you better sign those papers or your baby could probably die here.’ ” Hernández learned that she had been permanently sterilized three weeks later at her post-delivery examination. Crary died in 1978, and the case was transferred to Judge Jesse W. Curtis. In an effort to persuade her to sign a consent form for sterilization, medical staff claimed that she was “high risk” and could die from another pregnancy. But it hardly stopped there. (Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images), The belief that Mexican women were unusually “fecund” fueled anxieties over the potential for “race suicide,” in which the middle- and upper-class white population would be overwhelmed by nonwhites. Wooten tells the story of a young woman who was supposed to have a cyst removed from her left ovary, but the doctor accidentally removed the right ovary. That report is entirely sourced from the filed complaint and mostly focuses on the lack of proper COVID-19 protocols, but the LawandCrime.com headline focused on the alleged sterilizations—“ ‘Like an Experimental Concentration Camp’: Whistleblower Complaint Alleges Mass Hysterectomies at ICE Detention Center.” The story was widely shared on Monday night, and as of Tuesday, multiple other news outlets covered the allegations. Opponents of open Mexican immigration, including self-described eugenicists, wrote numerous articles supporting restrictive immigration. “What would it mean to give consent to be sterilized in a prison or detention center?” asked Roberts. The facility where she worked, according to the complaint, had not provided people detained there or staff adequate protection from the coronavirus. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. All rights reserved. While white feminist activists argued for unimpeded access to sterilization, contraception, and abortion, women of color sought to change the conversation on reproductive rights to include their concerns about abusive practices designed to restrict racial minority women’s reproduction.”. These programs’ underlying message: Without expert guidance, Mexican women lacked the skills to be capable mothers. Systematic forced sterilization is a Crime against Humanity. A state audit later found that in more than a quarter of tubal ligations performed around that time, there were deficiencies in the informed consent procedure, though the number may be higher—records had been purged in one facility. The ideology of population control for the greater good is deeply embedded in U.S. policy, explained Dorothy Roberts, law and sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty, speaking by phone this week after the ICE story broke. One woman had not signed any document consenting to the procedure. America’s Forgotten Mass Imprisonment of Women Believed to Be Sexually Immoral, The U.S. Deported a Million of Its Own Citizens During the Great Depression, The First Birth Control Pill Used Puerto Rican Women as Guinea Pigs. In addition to a violation of a person’s rights to health and safety & sexual and reproductive rights, forced sterilization can constitute a crime against humanity under international law. Despite the high rate of sterilizations, the dark history of these operations remains understudied and hidden in the shadows of history. One plaintiff was told to have the operation “because her children were a burden on the government.”. She said she knew of five other women detained with her at ICDC who said they had undergone hysterectomies between October and December 2019. She described a hospital culture in which Mexican patients were viewed as irresponsible breeders. Mexican migrant farm workers lined up for job interviews and to sign contracts at reception center. How did American lawmakers come to sterilize Mexican-Americans? Employers who relied on the labor of Mexican workers fought to preserve immigration from Mexico—and won. These women’s stories demonstrate the complicated nature of gaining appropriate consent for these procedures, and the complicated nature of proving the abuse. The scientific racialization seen in the 1920s only intensified with the Great Depression, as everyday citizens and government officials alike began using Mexican immigrants as scapegoats for economic and social ills. There is a straight line between this reasoning and the forced-sterilization cases at County General Hospital 20 years earlier, and the 20,000 people sterilized by the state of California in the name of the “betterment of humanity.”. Although the practice is primarily associated with Nazi Germany, North Korea, and other oppressive regimes, the U.S. has had its share of forced sterilization laws that fit with the eugenic culture of the early 20th century. The allegation comes from a complaint filed on behalf of a nurse who worked in the detention center, by the nonprofit Project South, along with three other nonprofits, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network. The ideology of population control for the greater good is deeply embedded in U.S. policy, Dorothy Roberts, law and sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and author of, , speaking by phone this week after the ICE story broke.
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