Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement

Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement

Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement

Women of Color and the Reproductive Rights Movement

Excerpt

In 1973, Guadalupe Acosta, a poor Mexican woman living in Los Angeles, gave birth at the University of Southern California-Los Angeles County Medical Center to an encephalic child who died shortly after delivery. After her labor Acosta's obstetrician sterilized her without her consent. At a postnatal check-up, Acosta requested the pill; her doctor chose that moment to inform her that she no longer had any need for contraception because she could no longer conceive. The doctor insisted that her husband had signed a consent form authorizing her sterilization. Acosta's husband denied the charge, adding that he would never consent to a termination of his wife's reproductive capacity. Acosta, along with 10 other Los Angeles Chicanas with similar experiences, brought a lawsuit against Los Angeles County Hospital, the anonymous doctors who performed their sterilizations, the state of California, and the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Maria Hustado, another woman involved in the case, told of her sterilization: “I do not remember the doctor telling me anything about tubalization. All that I remember is after the doctor injected my dorsal, spinal cord, he told me, 'Mama sign here. No more babies. Sign here.'”

Acosta and Hustado's stories are emblematic of how many poor women of color lost their ability to bear children through involuntary sterilization, but, in 1973, few mainstream feminists viewed ending sterilization abuse as an important demand in the fight for women's reproductive freedom. For most white women involved in women's liberation, reproductive freedom meant access to safe legal abortion and contraception. Yet, by the late 1970s, many white feminists had expanded their definition of reproductive freedom beyond abortion rights. In response to arguments made by women of color that legal abortion was not synonymous with reproductive freedom, reproductive rights feminists came to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.