How the Government is Still Controlling Minority Populations


Prisons aren’t the only place where forced sterilization happens, but they are the most common.

André Souza, Reporter

It seems so long ago when Nazi Germany used tactics of forced sterilization to eliminate anyone who they deemed unfit to live in their state. This inhumane practice had been used before, but was widely abolished after World War Two ended, or so we thought.

Forced sterilization is a medical procedure done without the patient’s consent, where they will not be able to have kids in the future. This was widely and openly used in the USA in the 19th century to sterilize the mentally disabled, for fear that they would reproduce kids with the same conditions. In fact, California’s use of this practice in the early 1900s inspired Hitler. It was in no way backed by science and was done out of ignorance, but after the war, everyone assumed that being associated with the Nazi’s would put a stop to it.

It might have stopped in the eyes of the public, but it was far from being over. It wasn’t outlawed until 1981, and cases of forced sterilization have been confirmed to have happened as recently as 2010, with many reports coming after that. The Nixon Administration actually funded the sterilization of black and low-income women. But black women are not the only ones.

An investigation done by the Center for Investigative Studies found that Between the years of 1973 and 1976, 3,406 Native American women were sterilized without permission, and including the three years before that, 25 to 50% of all Native American women had become sterile. This was funded by the US government and performed by doctors with no supervision, no protocol, and very little regulation.

According to a 2011 Ms. magazine article, “U.S. women of color have historically been the victims of forced sterilization. Some women were sterilized during Cesarean sections and never told; others were threatened with termination of welfare benefits or denial of medical care if they didn’t ‘consent’ to the procedure; others received unnecessary hysterectomies at teaching hospitals as practice for medical residents. In the South, it was such a widespread practice that it had a euphemism: a ‘Mississippi appendectomy.'”

Forced sterilizations aren’t just a thing of the past. Recent reports show that it’s still happening illegally. An exposé found that a California prison had been using the practice between the years 2006 and 2010. According to a pundit on the subject named Shanzeh Khurram, “at least 148 women at the California Institution for Women in Corona and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla received tubal ligation, a surgical procedure for permanent sterilization in which a woman’s fallopian tubes are closed.”

This wasn’t just some private underground project. The state of California paid the doctors $147,460 dollars to coerce or flat out trick the women into accepting the procedure. California has been the state with the biggest problem to date, and it mainly stems from anti-Mexican and anti-Asian racism, whereas in the south it was used as a way to “control” the African American population.

The forced sterilization of underprivileged women is still happening today, whether privately or even government funded. This is a major problem that doesn’t get nearly enough media attention. It is rooted in racism, prejudice, and ignorance, and will continue to plague our nation until it is stopped for good.