Abortion and Sterilization

The issue of sterilization has been around for over a century. Women and men have been subjected to sterilization without their knowledge or consent. Whereas sterilization is viewed as a past issue, it continues today as a sad and disastrous reminder of the past (Krase, 2014). Though it was popular in the 1960s and 1970s and somehow lost popularity, it continues in some states. Sterilization and abortion are covered under the guise of eugenics. Eugenics is the scientific effort to improve human population through controlled breeding. The breeding is aimed at increasing the rate of desired genetic characteristics. The Nazis perfected the act, leading to its disfavor among the human race due to perversion of the initial good intent. The abuse of sterilization comprise of situations where the victims are unaware they are being sterilized. In other situations, they are tricked or compelled into obtaining their consent to the procedure. Often, they are cheated that the procedure is reversible.

The findings by Committee for Puerto Rican Decolonization indicated that 35 percent of Puerto Rican women were sterilized (CWLU, 2016). There were indications that the reproductive policy pursued by the Puerto Rican authorities colluded with the federal government and other corporations in sterilizing women. The committee indicates that a report by a group empowered by the Governor of Puerto Rico spoke about the options available for reduction of the ranks of the working class. The report only surfaced in recent years. This is an indication that the sterilization plan was malicious and aimed at reducing a specific class of people. The sterilization plan can be viewed from the perspective of resource distribution where economic challenges were viewed by the federal government as originating from overpopulation. Therefore, if the population increase could be controlled, then the living standard could improve for the superior whites. This would safeguard them from the ‘inferior and crude’ underdeveloped world that threatens to engulf the world with overpopulation.

Gayle Rubin attempts to account about the origins of female oppression. Rubin takes a Marxist agenda and inquires what contributes to female oppression. To respond adequately to the concern, she evaluates the works of Levi-Strauss and Freud. The two presents a detailed account on how systematic social dynamics shape tamed women. Both theorists present theoretical framework explaining the social structures that create room for women discrimination. These structures are gender/sex systems. The Marxist approach to women discrimination focuses on the role of women in reproduction and maintenance of workforce, and reproduction of labor. However, Rubin’s theory refutes and states that whereas women are fundamental for capitalism, it does not explain why women are oppressed. Instead, Rubin states that women face oppression due to numerous other factors in the society that are not essentially capitalist. This observation is rational considering that women in socialist societies are still faced with oppression and discrimination. In essence, the kinship systems tend to generate solid forms of socially organized sexuality. The systems are social constructions of biological reproduction, leading to gender differentiation and eventual discrimination against females. The social distinction between sexes is as a result of biological differences that turn females and males into women and men. Each has an incomplete part that is only completed through uniting with the opposite sex. This suppresses resemblance while underlining differences. When these differences become pronounced due to social settings, women are discriminated and eventually oppressed.

Lisa Ko indicates that compelled sterilization is an appalling part of American history. Apparently, sterilization was implemented as a means to control undesirable populations. These included the mentally challenged, the disabled, single mothers, the poor, people of color, and immigrants. The program was federally funded, being undertaken in thirty-two states. The programs informed segregation and immigration policies. The advocacy by social reformers, legislators, and medical superintendents to replace the term sterilization with eugenics can be viewed as masquerading behind rudimentary theories of human heredity. The theories posit the wholesale of characteristics associated with trappings of horrifying conditions such as sexual deviance, unintelligence, and criminality. Between 2006 and 2010, California correctional facilitates are said to have authorized eugenics for about 150 female prisoners. While California authorized eugenics informed by anti-Mexican and anti-Asian prejudice, other states in the south were informed by the urge to control of African Americans populations. Whereas most of the cases of reproductive justice transpire decades ago, these cases remain pertinent today. State laws continue restricting access to contraceptives and abortion. In view of this, eugenics tends to limit physical self-determination.

In an effort to ensure the Trump administration does not support abortion, the president issued a memo focusing on the Mexico City Policy. The memo reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy (Global Gag Rule) espoused by successive Republican administration beginning 1984. Under the order, the use of U.S foreign aid for abortion related activities is banned. The issuance of the memo created a separate regulation. The regulation demands that foreign non-governmental organizations that receive U.S global health aid must confirm that they do not utilize own non-US aid in the provision of abortion, counseling of patients regarding abortion, refer the patients for abortion, or support the liberalization of abortion laws (HRW, 2017). The Global Gag Rule seems to oppose abortion and sterilization.


CWLU. (2016). 35% of Puerto Rican Women Sterilized. Retrieved from https://www.cwluherstory.org/health/35-of-puerto-rican-women-sterilized

HRW. (2017). Trump’s ‘Mexico City Policy’ or ‘Global Gag Rule’. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/22/trumps-mexico-city-policy-or-global-gag-rule

Krase, K. (2014). History of Forced Sterilization and Current U.S. Abuses. Retrieved from http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/health-info/forced-sterilization/

Rubin, G. (2014). The Traffic in Women: Notes on the Political Economy of Sex Summary. Retrieved from https://genderstudiesgroupdu.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/the-rraffic-in-women.pdf