Sterilization

Latinas/os have a complex relationship to surgical sterilization as well as to related long-acting forms of birth control. For more than one hundred years, Latinas/ os—above all Chicanas and puertorriqueñas—have been subjected episodically to unwanted sterilizations in state institutions and public clinics. At the same time, Latinas/os have struggled to obtain access to safe and affordable birth control, including sterilization, contraceptive technologies, and in recent years, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). This dueling pattern of hypervigilant reproductive control and structural exclusion from reproductive health services has characterized, and continues to characterize, Latinas/os’ fraught relationship to sterilization.

For much of the twentieth century, Latinas/os, like all Americans, faced tremendous barriers to obtaining elective sterilizations. Until 1969, women seeking the procedure at the doctor’s office had to adhere to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (ACOG) formula, in which age multiplied by number of children had to be greater than or equal …

This essay may be found on page 217 of the printed volume.

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