Dawn Wooten, a nurse at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, made the shocking claim that there was “jarring medical neglect” and questionably high numbers of hysterectomies, forced sterilization, in ICE detention centers.
A history of forced sterilization
Forced sterilization is not new. However, the behavior and treatment of immigrants by the Trump Administration ask pointed questions behind the rhetoric of being “Pro-Life.” What is disturbing is that the government ordered and financed sterilization on native Americans (all individuals who have indigenous ancestors) from countries including Mexico, Guatemala, Salvador, and Honduras.
Over the last 100 years of US history, the country has a remarkably poor record of human rights when it comes to reproductive freedom:
- Buck versus Bell – The US Supreme Court upheld compulsory sterilization of the “unfit,” including the intellectually disabled (1927).
- The Indian Health Service in the 1960s and 1970s performed forced sterilizations with estimates of close to 25% of Native women.
- Sterilization of African Americans was also considerably higher than the rate of European Americans
For an Administration that proclaims to be Pro-Life and received the blessing of majority-white women and evangelicals voters, the actions do not seem to fit congruently with professed beliefs. This disconnect between proclamations and activities in this Administration is not new. The treatment of undocumented immigrants and individuals seeking asylum has been abysmal under the Trump administration, including:
- A policy of family separation at the border.
- Metering policy in cooperation with Mexico to prevent the legal request for asylum.
- Shocking levels of child abuse of boys and girls in Detention centers
- Deportation of parents and put children in foster families.
Recently we heard about the chilling complaint of forced sterilization, but what else could be happening in these Detention centers? This Administration is adamant about its purest disdain of Native Americans and is pursuing policies straight out of the Eugenics and white supremacy handbook to suppress their population.
Forced sterilization, an evil practice
In my home country of Peru, a policy of massive forced sterilization of indigenous women was undertaken under President Alberto Fujimori. Nearly 350,000 women and 25,000 men were sterilized under the guise of “population control,” most of the victims were from indigenous communities. The sterilizations had a chilling effect on future generations for the native populations and the culture – as the state-sanctioned murder of indigenous further dehumanizes our presence in society.
An individual’s body should not be subject to government pleasure and decision. That someone eliminates a part of your body to prevent you from having a child is not only an abuse of power – it represents the purest form of evil. As long as we continue to think that the woman’s body is the government’s property, we will never be a truly free society with equality and equity.
Sterilizing women without consent is an evil practice, and it is antithetical to the ideas of being “Pro-Life.”
For my evangelical brothers and sisters, the question becomes your Pro-Life, right? But Pro whose life?
Yenny Delgado is a Social Psychologist and a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA). She earned a bachelor’s in Theology from Biblical Latin America University (Costa Rica), a Master in Cooperation and International Development at Jaume I University (Spain) and a Master in Public Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary (United States).
Born in Peru, Yenny is Native American descendant and has a deep appreciation of her cultural roots. From a young age, Yenny was immersed in the history of her indigenous people by her grandmother.
She is the founder of PUBLICA, Theology in Public Life, www.publicatheology.org. PUBLICA is a forum where issues of theology, society, culture, and politics meet in thoughtful and timely reflections and articles. The website encourages active theologians to distill thoughts into written works for sharing and discussion.
As a dedicated lifelong learning in her ministry she focuses on applying lesson-learned from practices across the globe in order to promote the well-being of the entire community.