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The US has a horrifying history of forced sterilizations. Some fear hysterectomies in ICE custody could be a new chapter

September 16, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

1974 staff file photo of protestors at the County USC Medical Center. The protest was orgainized by "The Committee to Stop Forced Sterilizationi."

There's a shameful legacy of US officials ordering operations on people without their consent -- often disproportionately targeting people of color -- with laws driven by racism and cloaked in terms about mental health and fitness.

Molina has written about the history of forced sterilization.

As details emerge, Molina and other scholars say they see this week's allegations as the latest chapter in a long and troubling history.

"This could be seen as a recent episode in a much longer trajectory of sterilization abuse and reproductive injustice," says Alexandra Minna Stern, a professor and associate dean at the University of Michigan.

"Under those laws, about 60,000 people were sterilized in procedures that we would qualify today as being compulsory, forced, involuntary, and under the justifications that the people who were being sterilized were unfit to reproduce," she says.

When it comes to sterilization, Molina -- who teaches at the University of Southern California's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences -- says California's history has been particularly troubling.

We know that in the California prison system there were also issues of forced sterilization," she says.

Molina says the coronavirus pandemic already had a lot of scholars thinking about this history recently, even before the whistleblower's complaint.

"She was subjected to what she called the 'Mississippi appendectomy,'" Stern says, "where young Black women were taken into local clinics and sterilized.

Stern says learning -- and sharing -- this history is important.

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