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href="https://truthout.org/articles/forced-sterilization-is-nothing-new-to-criminalized-people-in-the-us/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=c12036f3-a29e-4276-b8c4-56e94a7b27e4">https://truthout.org/articles/forced-sterilization-is-nothing-new-to-criminalized-people-in-the-us/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=c12036f3-a29e-4276-b8c4-56e94a7b27e4</a></font>
        <h1 class="reader-title">Forced Sterilization Is Nothing New to
          Criminalized People in the US</h1>
        <div class="credits reader-credits">Jenn M. Jackson - September
          16, 2020<br>
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              <p><span data-contrast="auto">The United States has long
                  used citizenship status and perceived criminality as a
                  means to determine whether individuals deserve basic
                  human rights. </span><span data-contrast="auto">This
                  week’s egregious allegations of </span><a
href="https://truthout.org/articles/whistleblower-on-doctor-at-ice-facility-everybody-he-sees-has-a-hysterectomy/"><span
                    data-contrast="none">mass hysterectomies</span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto"> at an immigrant jail in Georgia
                  are consistent with the long U.S. tradition of
                  state-sanctioned eugenics, medical abuse and forced
                  sterilizations against those whose humanity the state
                  does not recognize or value. </span><span
                  data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><a
href="https://www.thecut.com/2020/09/women-in-ice-custody-allegedly-coerced-into-hysterectomies.html"><span
                    data-contrast="none">News reports</span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto"> on Monday revealed that
                  gynecologists in an </span><span data-contrast="auto">immigrant
                  jail </span><span data-contrast="auto">in Georgia
                  have performed high rates of hysterectomies, often
                  without the full awareness of the immigrant women
                  themselves. </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">According to a complaint
                  filed by </span><a
href="https://www.scribd.com/document/476013004/OIG-Complaint#fullscreen&from_embed"><span
                    data-contrast="none">Project South</span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto">, the revelation came from a
                  whistleblower named Dawn Wooten, a Black woman who was
                  a nurse at Georgia’s Irwin County Detention Center. In
                  the detailed account, Wooten shares not only the
                  pervasive accounts of medical neglect and oversight,
                  but also the ways that immigrant women’s bodies have
                  been infiltrated by the state. </span><span
                  data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">In the report, Wooten
                  explains that incarcerated people would be sent to the
                  doctor for medical procedures, including
                  hysterectomies, and “they don’t know why they went or
                  why they’re going.” Often, these women were not given
                  informed consent as the medical procedures were not
                  explained in their native language. At times, these
                  women experienced intimidation and yelling from nurses
                  pressuring them to follow through with unwanted or
                  unnecessary procedures. In one account, a migrant
                  woman simply came to the conclusion </span><span
                  data-contrast="auto">“that something was not right”
                  when incarcerated migrants were being coerced into
                  procedures that weren’t clearly explained or
                  consistently described by medical staff. </span><span
                  data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">These disturbing reports
                  from Georgia are not surprising within the larger
                  context of human rights abuses in the U.S. </span><span
                  data-contrast="auto">Since 2016, the </span><a
href="https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/19/us/photos-show-conditions-in-arizona-border-detention-centers.html"><span
                    data-contrast="none">conditions facing migrant
                    people</span></a><span data-contrast="auto">
                  interned by the U.S. Immigration and Customs
                  Enforcement (ICE) have been a constant source of
                  unrest and public upheaval. The images often depict
                  dilapidated cells, makeshift bedding, and a lack of
                  basic amenities like clean water and food for people
                  jailed by ICE. While the treatment of migrant people
                  on the border and the disregard for the lives and
                  experiences of incarcerated people in this country has
                  long been an issue, this moment has forced the public
                  to grapple with the disparities in justice and liberty
                  in new and disconcerting ways.</span><span
                  data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">The reported resurgence of
                  forced sterilizations at Georgia’s Irwin County
                  Detention Center — a form of violence rooted in white
                  supremacy, xenophobia, patriarchy and the inherently
                  racist tenets of American citizenship — are an
                  unfortunate recurrence in this nation’s short history.
                  In times of contestation, sexual violence and
                  reproductive injustice frequently become the currency
                  of the state.</span><span data-contrast="auto"> </span><span
                  data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <h2>A History of Anti-Blackness in Western Medicine</h2>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">Many people are colloquially
                  familiar with the story of the </span><a
                  href="https://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/timeline.htm"><span
                    data-contrast="none">Tuskegee Experiments </span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto">on Black men which began in 1932.
                  It was officially called “Tuskegee Study of Untreated
                  Syphilis in the Negro Male.”</span> <span
                  data-contrast="auto">What many people don’t know is
                  that these experiments lasted approximately 40 years
                  even though they were projected for only six months of
                  experimentation. The study originally included roughly
                  600 Black men mainly from Macon County, Alabama, 201
                  of whom did not actually have syphilis. The study
                  deceptively enrolled Black men without allowing them
                  informed consent, as researchers told participants
                  that they had “</span><a
href="https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/history/40-years-human-experimentation-america-tuskegee-study"><span
                    data-contrast="none">bad blood</span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto">” and many were never treated at
                  all.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">The United States Public
                  Health Service made the decision not to treat poor
                  Black men for syphilis, but rather to watch them
                  “until they died and their bodies examined for ravages
                  of the disease,” according to </span><a
href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/05/16/youve-got-bad-blood-the-horror-of-the-tuskegee-syphilis-experiment/"><i><span
                      data-contrast="none">The Washington Post</span></i></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto">.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}">
                </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">The “study” officially ended
                  in 1972 and has been linked to </span><a
href="https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/tuskegee-study-medical-distrust-research/487439/"><span
                    data-contrast="none">lower life expectancy among
                    Black men over 45</span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto"> and a deep distrust between
                  Black communities and Western medicine. The emotional
                  and mental effects of this study remain hidden from
                  popular culture and mainstream news, leaving many
                  Black communities to struggle against these sorts of
                  medical disparities in relative isolation.</span><span
                  data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <h2>Forced Sterilizations in Recent History </h2>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">Eugenics is often associated
                  with Nazi Germany but, in the early 20th century, the
                  United States adopted these techniques in grand
                  fashion. Our disgusting history with forced
                  sterilizations is linked to a 1927 court decision in </span><a
href="https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/274/200"><i><span
                      data-contrast="none">Buck v. Bell</span></i></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto">. The decision gave institutions
                  like prisons and mental facilities the ability to
                  sterilize any person in their custody for any reason
                  deemed necessary to protect the “better interests” of
                  society. Carrie Buck was determined to be
                  “feebleminded” so the state took away her ability to
                  reproduce children. This stemmed decades of state
                  institutions using their authority to forcibly
                  sterilize incarcerated people. It’s estimated that
                  some 70,000 people were sterilized until the 1970s. </span><span
                  data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">But, </span><i><span
                    data-contrast="auto">Buck v. Bell</span></i><span
                  data-contrast="auto"> has </span><a
href="https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/eric-metaxas/eugenics-alive-and-well-america-sterilization-case-buck-v-bell-still-matters"><span
                    data-contrast="none">never been overturned</span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto">. As late as 2006 to 2010,
                  California prisons have been found to have enforced
                  the coerced sterilizations on at least 150
                  incarcerated people, according to </span><a
href="https://web.archive.org/web/20160202150642/https:/www.pbs.org/independentlens/blog/unwanted-sterilization-and-eugenics-programs-in-the-united-states/"><i><span
                      data-contrast="none">PBS</span></i></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto">. As recently as 2017, a judge in
                  central Tennessee offered </span><a
href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/07/21/judge-to-inmates-get-sterilized-and-ill-shave-off-jail-time/"><span
                    data-contrast="none">shorter jail times</span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto"> to incarcerated people if they
                  consented to sterilization. These procedures are used
                  by prison administrators to disproportionately target
                  and harm Black and Brown women, deeming them unfit for
                  reproduction and marking their wombs as sites of waste
                  and decay.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <h2>Holding Our History of Hating “Criminals”</h2>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">The United States’s
                  commitment to eugenics, medical abuse and forced
                  sterilizations depicts the complex nature of perceived
                  criminality in this country. By marking certain
                  people’s bodies as inherently evil, anti-patriotic and
                  outside of the community of citizenship, the state
                  casts a veil over the grave human rights infringements
                  and institutional abuses it enacts against nonwhite,
                  non-wealthy, non-male, non-normative people. This is
                  by design, not by happenstance.</span><span
                  data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">In her </span><a
href="https://racismandnationalconsciousnessresources.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/m-jacqui-alexander-the-politics-of-law-sexuality-and-postcoloniality-in-trinidad-and-tobago-and-the-bahamas.pdf"><span
                    data-contrast="none">1994 essay,</span></a><span
                  data-contrast="auto"> “Not Just (Any) Body Can Be a
                  Citizen,” M. Jacqui Alexander wrote, “criminalization
                  functions as a technology of control, and much like
                  other technologies of control becomes an important
                  site for the production and reproduction of state
                  power.” </span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">Criminalization is the
                  mechanism by which people are transposed from humans
                  into bodies through the eyes of the state. By
                  criminalizing, ostracizing and excluding Black, Brown,
                  queer, trans, immigrant and disabled people, the state
                  sanctions all manner of macabre violence against those
                  they see as merely bodies, organs, and a collection of
                  pieces and parts.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
              <p><span data-contrast="auto">The state is not invested in
                  the humanity of all people but only in the humanity of
                  a chosen few. Until we recognize and hold that truth
                  to be self-evident, we will be powerless in holding
                  these institutions and systems accountable for the
                  injustices they continue to commit right in front of
                  our faces.</span><span data-ccp-props="{}"> </span></p>
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