I was in the process of proofreading an article I had just completed for my blog. I was listening to the radio. The two jocks were complaining about “illegal aliens.” They griped about every American that did not fit into their Whites Only universe. Minorities and Hispanics on welfare and food stamps are deadbeats; “illegal aliens” should not get in-state college tuition; Mexican workers have no right to ask for decent wages. A caller to the show said that Mexican women working as maids should not expect more pay “just to make beds”. In other words, employers should decide what to pay these women for making beds and cleaning toilets. These illegal women are misfits. It’s their fault if they fail to improve their lives in America.
One of the jocks, an ex-cop and Christian, was extremely unhappy about the influx of “illegal” children coming to America without their parents, all looking for free handouts. He complained about their increasing America's population, and how that swelling number hurts the economy. He said the government should think about eugenics to control "illegal aliens” birth rates.
The ideal prototypes to procreate America.
Thirty-two states within the United States, and the U. S. Territory of Puerto Rico, targeted specific women to sterilize; to vaginally euthanize. The purpose of the forced sterilization program was to limit undesirables before they could repopulate the U. S. and Puerto Rico. Thus enters this theory called Eugenics. The term means “the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics." Developed largely by Francis Galton, it was a method designed to improve the human race.
An estimated 60,000 American men, women and teenagers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico were sterilized between the 1900s and 1974. Puerto Rico was noted for sterilizing the biggest number of men and women. In 1942 the Supreme Court struck down the law that allowed involuntary sterilization of criminals; however it did not reverse the actual concept of sterilization.
The first state forced sterilization legislation was passed in Indiana in 1907. “At that time, many people believed that certain traits and behavior — criminality, a propensity for poverty, mental illness — were passed from parents to children. (eugenics had only a passing relationship with actual genetics.) Eugenicists argued that society would be improved by preventing these people from reproducing.
Elaine Riddick and her son Tony Riddick
The economy in Puerto Rico was crawling. Unemployment was high with no relief in sight. To change the bad luck to good luck the U.S. theorized that sterilization of the poor and uneducated would automatically increase the island’s economic status. Doctors who performed operations on the women did not trust that they had the intelligence to use physical contraceptives or take birth control pills as instructed.
“Before long, Puerto Rico won the distinction of having the world’s highest sterilization rate. So common was the procedure that it was widely known as ‘la operacion’ among islanders. Thousands of men in Puerto Rico also underwent sterilization as well. U. S. pharmaceutical researchers also experimented on women for human trials of the birth control pill in the 1950s”. (About News)
Like in American states that targeted men and women, Puerto Ricans did not know, or understand that the procedure performed on them sealed their hopes of ever becoming parents. Doctors, medical staff or social workers did not bother to explain the operation to them. Native American women and young girls did not escape the clutches of forced sterilization. An article in "Our Bodies Our Selves" tells the story of two 15 year old Indian girls living in Montana, who went to the hospital at different times. They thought they were getting emergency appendectomies. That is what they were told. The girls were sterilized without the consent of their parents.
During her lectures about forced sterilization, history professor Lisa Emmerich, talks about the plight of a young Indian woman. "In the early 1970s a young American Indian woman visited her physician and made an unusual and troubling request. She wanted to know if her doctor could perform a uterus transplant. Her doctor asked why. The young woman reported that during her teens after the birth of a child, her doctors on the reservation told her that they'd ‘fixed it’ so she could not have children for a while.
“According to the General Accounting Office (GAO) report, 3406 Native American women between the ages of fifteen and forty-four were sterilized between 1973 and 1976. Because the investigators did not find any systematic attempt to single out any one American Indian nation and sterilize its child-bearing women, they concluded that this was not genocide. In Washington, Congressmen called for more investigations.
“On reservations Native American activists conducted their own surveys of women, finding more incidents of sterilization without informed consent. As a direct result of the public reaction, new rules were mandated for federally funded sterilizations, including providing interpreters for non-English speakers, allowing witnesses to accompany a patient during her discussion with a doctor, forbidding sterilization of minors, assuring patients that their benefits will not be denied based on their medical decision, and requiring a thirty-day waiting period”. (Genocide or Family Planning)
Lewis Reynolds, a male victim who was sterilized without his knowledge or consent, told the Associate Press, “I think they done me wrong. I couldn’t have a family like everybody else does. They took my rights away.” Reynolds was sterilized by doctors who said he was epileptic. “It was later concluded that he was demonstrating only temporary symptoms because of a head injury”.
Virginia and North Carolina are the only two states to come forward with offers to compensate forced sterilization victims. The state of California apologized by has not discussed compensation. Of the 7, 600 victims in North Carolina an estimated 2,000 are still alive. Virginia lawmakers passed legislation in which it agreed that sterilization victims should be awarded $25,000 each. More than 8,000 people in Virginia were sterilized. As of February 2015 only 11 of them have been identified.
Forced sterilization timeline
1849--Gordon Lincecum, a famed Texas biologist and physician, proposes a bill mandating the Eugenic sterilization of the mentally handicapped and others whose genes he deems undesirable. Although the legislation was never sponsored or brought up for a vote, it represented the first serious attempt in U.S. history to use forced sterilization for eugenic purposes.
1981--Oregon performs the last legal forced sterilization in U.S. history. (data gathered by Tom Head for About News and Policy. Mic)