From Prisoner Sterilizations to Abortion Restrictions, the Reproductive Rights of Women of Color Are Being Trampled

So many women in the United States lack reproductive justice, but recent stories show how it disproportionately eludes women of color.

In the 1950s, John Rock and Gregory Pincus, the inventors of the birth control pill, sought a place where they could test the drug among a large population of women so that it could be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They visited Puerto Rico and decided it would be the perfect place, because if they could demonstrate that “poor, uneducated … women of Puerto Rico could follow the Pill regimen, then women anywhere in the world could too,” according to a PBS American Experience write-up about the Puerto Rico trials. 

Many women in Puerto Rico were eager to use birth control, but “[t]he women had only been told that they were taking a drug that prevented pregnancy, not that this was a clinical trial, that the Pill was experimental or that there was a chance of potentially dangerous side effects.” Three of the women “guinea pigs” died. 

The physicians viewed these women as “ideal” subjects because they were poor and uneducated, and they in turn gave the women half-truths and false information. This weekend, we learned that in at least one prison, a somewhat similar situation has been unfolding in the United States.

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) broke the news on Sunday that some women inmates in California felt pressured by their prison’s physician to get tubal ligations. The physicians, under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, also reportedly failed to obtain required state approvals before performing sterilizations on 148 women inmates in the state between 2006 and 2010, according to the CIR report.

Read on

No comments: