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The New York Times ran a front-page story today about the history of sterilization abuse in the United States, particularly the aggressive program in North Carolina under which some 7,600 people were sterilized – often as teens or young adults and without their knowledge.

North Carolina is hardly alone in this sordid history but after journalists published an expose in 2002, the state government was confronted with the question of what to do to try to redress the harms inflicted on people who suffered sterilization abuse at the hands of the government.

As one woman who was sterilized as a teenager – but told she was being given an appendectomy – puts it, “I see people with babies and I think how much I would have loved to have a young one. It should have been my choice whether I wanted to have a baby or not. You just feel like you were held back, like you never had any say in your life.”

This chapter of U.S. history reminds us why the movement for reproductive justice encompasses the right to have children and raise children with dignity.

Interested in learning more?

See the 2002 series about North Carolina, "Against their Will."

Or these books:

Barren in the Promised Land by Elaine Tyler May.

Pregnancy and Power by Rickie Solinger.

Share your suggestions in the comments.

 

 


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