While this literature characterizes women in general in terms of reproductive capacity and rarely discusses the race or class of women seeking sterilization, women of color and low-income women are frequently understood as "too fertile." (46) In fact, involuntary sterilization
continues to take place in the United States.
Additional Provision on Involuntary Sterilization
Hungary, a case that involved the involuntary sterilization
of a Hungarian woman of Roma origin, the CEDAW Committee found that the failure to provide the woman with reproductive health information and to ensure that A.S.
Subsequently, In re Chang was superseded by In re X-P-T, which held that "[a]n alien who has been forced to abort a pregnancy or undergo involuntary sterilization
, or who has been persecuted for resistance to a coercive population control program, has suffered past persecution on account of political opinion and qualifies as a refugee within the amended definition of that term under section 1101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act." (50)
This amounts to a change over time toward a greater emphasis on involuntary sterilization
for men and voluntary sterilization that targeted nonmentally defective women.
I suspect that the descendents of eugenic activists do not like being reminded of their ancestors' terrible eugenic deeds, moral degradation and depredations, and the horrible things they inflicted upon the weak and powerless--like involuntary sterilization
. Although the eugenicists "advocated compulsory sterilization for criminals, sex deviants, and the feebleminded," (1) many poor women were sterilized for the simple or flimsy reason as "being considered [too] lazy or [too] promiscuous." (2)
THE SHAMEFUL US HISTORY OF involuntary sterilization
, forced relocation and environmental abuse suffered by Native Americans gave rise to the triumphs of Native American activists like Katsi Cook, a Mohawk woman in Akwesasne along the St.
Many became pillars of their communities, with one, Bethenia Owens Adair, becoming so respectable she was able to successfully promote legislation for the involuntary sterilization
of the disabled.
Bell, in which the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that involuntary sterilization
Today, there is wide agreement among historians that eugenics was used to design and justify state-sanctioned atrocities, from the involuntary sterilization
of thousands of working-class women in California and 32 other states (Ibid.), to the murder of 200,000 disabled children and adults during the Hitler regime.
The most famous case of involuntary sterilization
was that of Carrie Bell, a woman from Virginia who was alleged to have had mental retardation.
In the 1970s, mainland feminists, reflecting a new awareness of the effects of race and poverty, began to denounce involuntary sterilization
while they continued to fight for access to abortion and birth control.