Sunday, December 11, 2011

North Carolina Weighs Restitution for Victims Sterilized Under State's Eugenics Program

The New York Times: Thousands Sterilized, a State Weighs Restitution, by Kim Severson:

Charles Holt, 62, spreads a cache of vintage government records across his trailer floor. They are the stark facts of his state-ordered sterilization.

The reports begin when he was barely a teenager, fighting at school and masturbating openly. A social worker wrote that he and his parents were of “rather low mentality.” Mr. Holt was sent to a state home for people with mental and emotional problems. In 1968, when he was ready to get out and start life as an adult, the Eugenics Board of North Carolina ruled that he should first have a vasectomy. . . .

December 11, 2011 in Men and Reproduction, State and Local News, Sterilization, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On Rick Perry's Vasectomy

Rick_Perry RH Reality Check: Rick Perry’s Vasectomy: The Governor's Reliance on What He Denies to His Fellow Texans, by Carole Joffe:

Rick Perry has only two children?! As the biographical information flashed by on television during a recent debate of Republican presidential hopefuls, it was strangely incongruous to see that the rising star of the religious right was so woefully behind his competitors.   Rick Santorum and Jon Hunstman led the pack with seven kids each, followed by Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachman with five (and the 23 children she had fostered). To be sure, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain also had a paltry two, but they, unlike Perry, were not considered to be the new favorite of the social conservative wing of the Republican. Recent polls show Perry supplanting Bachman in that role, notwithstanding her impressive numbers. . . .

The reason that Rick Perry has “only” two children, one can say with confidence about this normally private matter, is because of the widely disseminated fact of his vasectomy. cited in the New York Times among other places.  (This procedure, to the delight of late night comedians, was apparently performed by his father-in-law).

Speaking as a reproductive health advocate, I have quite mixed feelings about Perry’s decision (presumably made with his wife) to have a vasectomy. . . .

September 15, 2011 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Fertility, Men and Reproduction, Politics, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

North Carolina Hears from Forced Sterlization Victims and Considers Compensation

NPR: N.C. Considers Paying Forced Sterilization Victims, by Julie Rose:

Barely 40 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for a single mother on welfare, or a patient in a mental hospital in North Carolina, to be sterilized against her will.

But North Carolina wasn't alone: More than half of states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, some of which persisted into the 1970s.

North Carolina is now considering compensating its sterilization victims. A state panel heard from some of them Wednesday. They were mostly poor and uneducated — both black and white — and often just girls when it happened. . . .

June 23, 2011 in Race & Reproduction, State and Local News, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Obama Administration Revises Bush-Era Religious Refusal Rule

The New York Times: A Bush Rule on Providers of Abortions Is Revised, by Robert Pear:

White House The Obama administration on Friday rescinded most of a 2008 rule that granted sweeping protections to health care providers who opposed abortion, sterilization and other medical procedures on religious or moral grounds.

Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said the rule, issued in the last days of the Bush administration, could “negatively impact patient access to contraception and certain other medical services.”

Federal laws make clear that health care providers cannot be compelled to perform or assist in an abortion, Ms. Sebelius said. The Bush rule went far beyond these laws and upset the balance between patients’ rights to obtain health care and “the conscience rights of health care providers,” she added. . . .

February 19, 2011 in Abortion, Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nicholas Kristof on Clashes Between Catholic Church and Hospitals that Provide Lifesaving Reproductive Health Care

The New York Times: Tussling Over Jesus, by Nicholas D. Kristof:

Catholic The National Catholic Reporter newspaper put it best: “Just days before Christians celebrated Christmas, Jesus got evicted.”

Yet the person giving Jesus the heave-ho in this case was not a Bethlehem innkeeper. Nor was it an overzealous mayor angering conservatives by pulling down Christmas decorations. Rather, it was a prominent bishop, Thomas Olmsted, stripping St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix of its affiliation with the Roman Catholic diocese.

The hospital’s offense? It had terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother. The hospital says the 27-year-old woman, a mother of four children, would almost certainly have died otherwise. . . .

February 1, 2011 in Abortion, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Paul Lombardo on the History of Eugenics in the United States

Paul A. Lombardo (Georgia State University College of Law) has posted Introduction: Looking Back at Eugenics on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Lombardo In 1907, Indiana passed the first involuntary sterilization law in the world based on the theory of eugenics. In time, more than thirty states and a dozen foreign countries followed Indiana’s lead in passing sterilization laws; those and other laws restricting immigration and regulating marriage on “eugenic” grounds were still in effect in the United States as late as the 1970s. 

The centennial of Indiana’s pioneering enactment provided an opportune time to evaluate the historical significance of eugenics in America. On April 12, 2007, a group that included scholars, state officials, and members of the public assembled in Indianapolis for the culmination of the Indiana Eugenics Legacy Project. The project was designed to advance historical research on eugenics, to deepen our understanding of the varied ways “eugenics” was expressed intellectually, legally, and socially, and to help draw lessons from history for current policy makers.

The volume described in this Introduction was the final product of the Indiana Eugenics Legacy Project. In the past twenty-five years, scholars have documented the wide appeal of eugenics and A Century of Eugenics, edited by Paul A. Lombardo (forthcoming from the Indiana University Press) builds on that growing literature. In contrast to the many wide-ranging scholarly and popular surveys of eugenics already available, this book is an exploration of the detailed and varied history of eugenics in America at the state and local levels. It contains original scholarship that probes practices in Indiana, Georgia, California, Minnesota, North Carolina and Alabama, along with other papers that explore eugenics from perspectives that include attention to bioethics, law, and race. We intend to contribute to the ongoing national discussion about the meanings of “eugenics” and how those meanings played out in specific and concrete contexts.

November 28, 2010 in Bioethics, Scholarship and Research, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Robert Goldstein on Women's Procreative Choice

Robert Goldstein (UCLA School of Law) has posted Picturing the Life Course of Procreative Choice on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Goldstein For a substantial part of women’s lives, regulating fertility is a primary project. This Article depicts the life course of women’s procreative choice through a series of complex visual representations of data derived from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 and the National Survey of Family Growth 2002. These graphic representations illustrate that preventing procreation, through a variety of choices, including contraception, sterilization, abortion, abstinence, and partner choice, occupies most of a woman’s fertile years, as compared with childbirth.



October 18, 2010 in Abortion, Contraception, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Scholarship and Research, Sterilization, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thaddeus Pope on Religious Refusals and Health Care

Thaddeus Mason Pope (Widener University Law School) has posted Legal Briefing: Conscience Clauses and Conscientious Refusal on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Pope This issue’s “Legal Briefing” column covers legal developments pertaining to conscience clauses and conscientious refusal. Not only has this topic been the subject of recent articles in this journal, but it has also been the subject of numerous public and professional discussions. Over the past several months, conscientious refusal disputes have had an unusually high profile not only in courthouses, but also in legislative and regulatory halls across the United States.

Healthcare providers’ own moral beliefs have been obstructing and are expected to increasingly obstruct patients’ access to medical services. For example, some providers, on ethical or moral grounds, have denied: (1) sterilization procedures to pregnant patients, (2) pain medications in end-of-life situations, and (3) information about emergency contraception to rape victims. On the other hand, many healthcare providers have been forced to provide medical treatment that is inconsistent with their moral beliefs.

There are two fundamental types of conscientious objection laws. First, there are laws that permit healthcare workers to refuse providing – on ethical, moral, or religious grounds – healthcare services that they might otherwise have a legal or employer-mandated obligation to provide. Second, there are laws directed at forcing healthcare workers to provide services to which they might have ethical, moral, or religious objections. Both types of laws are rarely comprehensive, but instead target: (1) certain types of healthcare providers, (2) specific categories of healthcare services, (3) specific patient circumstances, and (4) certain conditions under which a right or obligation is triggered.

For the sake of clarity, I have grouped recent legal developments concerning conscientious refusal into eight categories: (1) abortion: right to refuse; (2) abortion: duty to provide; (3) contraception: right to refuse; (4) contraception: duty to provide; (5) sterilization: right to refuse; (6) fertility, HIV, vaccines, counseling; (7) end-of-life measures: right to refuse; and (8) comprehensive laws: right to refuse.

September 22, 2010 in Abortion, Contraception, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Scholarship and Research, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Letter Asks HHS Not to Include Birth Control Pills or Sterilization as "Preventive Services" in New Health Care Regs

Modern Healthcare: Bishops stress birth-control stance to HHS, by Joe Carlson:

Catholic Catholic hospitals do not offer contraceptives or sterilizations to their patients as a matter of conscience, but American bishops say that regulations under debate in the healthcare reform law scheduled to go into effect Thursday could force religious healthcare providers to offer the services to their own employees.

HHS officials are finalizing the regulations on the specific services that group health insurance plans will be required to offer to consumers as “preventive services” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The reform law requires private health plans to cover evidence-based preventive services and to eliminate any cost-sharing requirements for them.

The July 14 interim final rule defining the services included coverage of chronic disease screenings, prenatal care and routine doctor visits for infants and children, but left open the question of what services will be required under preventive health services for women.

In a six-page letter hand-delivered to HHS, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the federal rule-makers to reject calls to define family planning services such as contraceptive pills and sterilization as “preventive services” because family-planning efforts do not aim to cure disease. “To prevent pregnancy is not to prevent a disease,” the bishops  wrote. . . .

September 21, 2010 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

HIV-Positive Namibian Women Testify About Forced Sterilizations

Inquirer Global Nation/: Namibian women with HIV tell court of forced sterilizations, by Christine Peters:

WINDHOEK, Namibia—In the throes of labor, a Namibian woman was approached by a nurse who handed her a document to sign, saying the form would authorize a Caesarean section.

"I was in labor at the state hospital when a nurse showed me a paper and said I must sign to allow a Caesarean section," she told a court last week, speaking through an interpreter.

"I did not know this was also for sterilization," said the woman, whose name is being protected by the court.

She only found out that she had been sterilized when she overheard two nurses discussing it in the hospital ward. Their reason was that she has HIV, which infects about 15 percent of Namibians between the ages of 15 and 49. . . .

September 9, 2010 in International, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, Sexually Transmitted Disease, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Victims of North Carolina's Forced Sterilization Program Seek Compensation N.C. Eugenics Survivors Seek Justice, by Lara Torgeson:

...In 1968, at just 14 years old, Elaine became one of the thousands of victims of North Carolina's forced sterilization program. Quietly and efficiently operating from 1929 until 1974, the program's purpose was to weed out the "unfit" of society by stopping them from reproducing....

Like Elaine, tens of thousands of people across the country were victims of eugenic sterilizations. But North Carolina was something of an anomaly. Most of the states with eugenic sterilization programs dismantled them after World War II when the horrors of the Holocaust were uncovered. North Carolina, however, ramped up its program in the postwar years, increasingly targeting poor black women during the '50s and '60s....

Sadly, more than half of the forced sterilization victims have already died, without ever receiving any kind of acknowledgement that what happened to them was wrong. But for the estimated 2,800 individuals still expected to be alive today, there is still a chance to do what's right. Sharing their stories, acknowledging the past and trying to learn something from it is a start. The $20,000 compensation being considered for survivors is not a hefty sum when you think about what the trade-off has been. Still, it is something, and it should be paid while the survivors are still surviving.

March 30, 2010 in Race & Reproduction, State and Local News, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Philippine Congress Considers Measure to Expand Access to Birth Control

NY Times: Birth Control Bill Has Enemies in Philippines, by Carlos H. Conde:

Philippine Abortion is illegal in the Philippines, though birth control and related health services have long been available to those who can afford to pay for them through the private medical system. But 70 percent of the population is too poor and depends on heavily subsidized care through the public health system. In 1991, prime responsibility for delivering public health services shifted from the central government to the local authorities, who have broad discretion over which services are dispensed. Many communities responded by making birth control unavailable.

More recently, however, family planning advocates have been making headway in their campaign to change this. Legislation before the Philippine Congress, called the Reproductive Health and Population Development Act, would require governments down to the local level to provide free or low-cost reproductive health services — from condoms and birth control pills to tubal ligation and vasectomy. It would also mandate sex education in all schools, public and private, from fifth grade through high school.

October 28, 2009 in Contraception, International, Poverty, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexuality Education, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chemical Castration of Sex Offenders Under Scrutiny In Europe

NY Times: Europeans Debate Castration of Sex Offenders, by Dan Bilefsky:

Eu_flag Whether castration can help rehabilitate violent sex offenders has come under new scrutiny after the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee last month called surgical castration “invasive, irreversible and mutilating” and demanded that the Czech Republic stop offering the procedure to violent sex offenders. Other critics said that castration threatened to lead society down a dangerous road toward eugenics.

The Czech Republic has allowed at least 94 prisoners over the past decade to be surgically castrated. It is the only country in Europe that uses the procedure for sex offenders. Czech psychiatrists supervising the treatment — a one-hour operation that involves removal of the tissue that produces testosterone — insist that it is the most foolproof way to tame sexual urges in dangerous predators suffering from extreme sexual disorders....

Last year, the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, signed legislation requiring courts to order chemical castration for offenders convicted  of certain sex crimes a second time.

March 12, 2009 in International, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jeanne Flavin on the Policing of Reproduction in the United States

Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women's Bodies in America (NYU Press), by Jeanne Flavin (Sociology, Fordham Univ.):

Our_bodies Panicked teenagers are prosecuted for abandoning or killing their newborns, but are not guaranteed comprehensive sexuality education or reproductive health services. Poor women are pressured not to procreate and urged to undergo sterilization. Women who are addicted to illicit drugs risk arrest for carrying their pregnancies to term. And more than 30 years after Roe, women still face barriers to obtaining a safe and affordable abortion including clinic violence and attempts to criminalize medically necessary procedures.

In Our Bodies, Our Crimes, Jeanne Flavin argues that, not only has the states control of womens bodies become more intrusive and more pervasive, it has also become invisible and taken for granted. This important work is framed around several vivid case studies, each taking place at a different time in the reproductive cycle. Through these disturbing examples, Flavin describes how the criminal justice system regulates women and their reproductive behavior from conception to childrearing.

December 27, 2008 in Pregnancy & Childbirth, Reproductive Health & Safety, Sexual Assault, Sterilization, Women, General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Czech Court Awards Compensation to Romani Woman For Forced Sterilization

Via AP/International Tribune:

Czech_republicsA Czech court ruled Friday that a hospital must pay 500,000 koruna (€18,200; US$25,800) in compensation for sterilizing a Gypsy woman 10 years ago without her consent, a lawyer for the woman said.

Complaints about the practice have been heard many times. But the lawyer, Michaela Kopalova, said this marked the first time a Gypsy woman in the Czech Republic had been compensated for such a claim....

Cervenakova, 31, was sterilized after giving birth to her second daughter by Caesarean section. Kopalova also represents two other Gypsy women who are seeking damages from hospitals, claiming to have been illegally sterilized. provides more information on the plaintiff's case:

On 7 July 1997 Ms Cervenakova ... gave birth by Caesarian section to her second child, Kristýna. She was sterilized during the same operation. Even though it was known in advance that she would have to give birth by Caesarian, the doctors did not follow the legal process for acquiring her consent to the sterilization. The doctors did not ask for her "consent" until Ms Cervenakova was under the influence of anaesthesia. At the time of surgery she was 19 years old. "I didn't even know what it meant," Cervenakova told ČTK today. ...  Červeňáková says that for seven years she was under the impression that she had merely been given an IUD.

Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.

October 17, 2007 in International, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Rules That Women Who Underwent Forced Abortions Can Seek Asylum in U.S.

Via the Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report:

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday unanimously ruled that women from other countries, such as China, who are forced to undergo abortion can be awarded asylum in the U.S., the AP/Houston Chronicle reports (Elias, AP/Houston Chronicle, 6/6). A three-judge panel of the court in March 2005 ruled that women who were forcibly sterilized under China's "coercive population control policies" and their husbands are entitled to political asylum in the U.S. (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 3/10/05).

The panel on Wednesday said that women who underwent forced abortion should receive the same protection given to women who underwent forced sterilizations, according to the AP/Chronicle. The panel in its ruling wrote that both forced abortion and sterilization have "serious, ongoing effects," adding, "We see no way to distinguish between the victims of forced sterilization and the victims of forced abortion for withholding of removal eligibility purposes."

June 10, 2007 in Abortion, In the Courts, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Slovakia Court Compensates Romani Women for Forced Sterilizations

Slovakiat From United Press International (Feb. 5):

A court in Slovakia ruled three Gypsy women had their human rights violated when prosecutors shelved complaints about their illegal sterilization.

The Constitutional court ordered the women of the southeastern town of Kosice to be paid $1,865 each in damages, the Slovak Spectator weekly reported Monday.

The Gypsy women, two underage, underwent illegal sterilizations without their consent in a hospital between 1999 and 2002.

Read the full UPI story.  Read a 2003 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Center of Civil and Human Rights (Poradna) (based in Slovakia) on the forcible or coerced sterilization of Romani women in eastern Slovakia's government-run health facilities.

"Flags courtesy of used with permission"

February 7, 2007 in International, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)