14 December 2016

Female Sterilization 1937

War Against All Puerto Ricans by Nelson Denis, 2015, Excerpt

In 1927, the US Supreme Court ruled that the state of Virginia could sterilize those it thought unfit, particularly when the mother was “feeble-minded” and “promiscuous.”

Ten years later, US Public Law 136 legalized all sterilization in Puerto Rico, even for “non-medical” reasons. Every year, more than 1000 women walked into the Hospital Municipal de Barceloneta. Each woman would talk to a doctor, fill out a few forms, and be assigned a bed. Two days later she’d walk out with her tiny newborn. She didn’t know, however, that her tubes had been cut and that she would never have another baby. For decades, the doctors in Barceloneta sterilized Puerto Rican women without their knowledge or consent.

Over 20,000 women were sterilized in this one town. This scenario was repeated throughout Puerto Rico until – at its high point – one-third of the women on the island had been sterilized and Puerto Rico had the highest incidence of female sterilization in the world.

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