The White Dude Knows Best approach to women’s health

White Dude Knows Best! Above: Men who want to control the bodies of women they deem unfit mothers. Louisiana state Rep. John LaBruzzo (left) and Texas state District Judge Charlie Baird (right).

It’s been quite a week for government violation of the bodily integrity of poor women and women of color. First, there was the judge in Texas who set “not having children” as a condition of a woman’s parole. (I just linked in the WFR on Sunday, but Cara discussed it at length. Go read her post.)

And today, via several readers, comes the news that John LaBruzzo, a state legislator from Louisiana, wants to pay low-income women $1,000 apiece to get sterilized. Everything about this is so incredibly offensive, I don’t know quite where to begin. Let’s start with a quote from LaBruzzo:

“We’re on a train headed to the future and there’s a bridge out, ”
LaBruzzo said of what he suspects are dangerous demographic trends.
“And nobody wants to talk about it.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Low-income women having children is a “dangerous demographic trend”?! Sounds like the recent round of racist propaganda we saw related to the “Demographic Winter” movie. (Film summary: You should be panicked because brown people are reproducing at faster rates than white people.) But LaBruzzo protests that he is not a racist — he’s a problem-solver!

LaBruzzo said other, mainstream strategies for attacking poverty,
such as education reforms and programs informing people about family
planning issues, have repeatedly failed to solve the problem. He said
he is simply looking for new ways to address it.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, he’s a racist, ‘ ” LaBruzzo said. “The hard part is to sit down and think of some solutions.”

It’s not as if this country has ever done a good job providing low-income women with the tools and information to make their own decisions. Programs that aim to do that have been consistently underfunded and poorly implemented. So no, we haven’t tried all other options. And even if we had, his idea is still completely appalling.

LaBruzzo is correct that it’s very easy to say he’s a racist. Because, um, he’s espousing a historically racist policy. What he clearly deems to be a new and creative solution has unfortunately been around a long time. Compulsory or coercive sterilizations for low-income women, disabled women, and women of color were extremely common up until the 1970s, and slightly less common but nevertheless occurring with regularity the the decades since. The paternalistic attitude that “certain women” cannot be trusted to make their own reproductive decisions is still an underlying theme of a lot of backwards legal and policy decisions. LaBruzzo and Texas judge Charlie Baird are part of this despicable tradition.

I’m in the midst of reading Jeanne Flavin’s soon-to-be-relased book, Our Bodies, Our Crimes. In it, she explains the early-1900s roots of how sterilization became the common way of dealing with poor women’s sexuality:

control was ruled out due to fears that should it “catch on” among the
white Protestant middle classes, their birth rates would be even
further reduced. So it came to pass that sterilization emerged as a
eugenics strategy.

How far is this attitude, really from LaBruzzo’s worries about “dangerous demographic trends”? Flavin also writes,

is questioned here is the notion that a judge has the right to order
them, or anyone, to be sterilized or not to reproduce. This is arguably
one of the most difficult premises for the general public to accept: that
a woman’s reproductive rights–including her right to procreate–are
distinct from whether or not she might be a “good” pregnant woman or a
“good” mother.
These rights reside in her existence as a human being, along with the rights to control her body.

(Emphasis mine.) In her post on the Texas court case, Cara breaks it down further:

If the government has the right to demand that people stop procreating,
it means that the government has the right to control our consensual
sex lives.  It means that the government has a right to decide who is
and is not worthy of the right to control over their own bodies, and
who is and is not worthy of the right to give birth.  It means the
government has a right to decide what medical procedures people undergo
— from birth control, to sterilization and/or temporary sterilization,
to abortion.

shouldn’t come as a surprise, then that LaBruzzo also opposes any
woman’s right to choose abortion. This is a Daddy Knows Best approach
to women’s health. In this case, as is often true, the paternalism has
a disproportionate effect on low-income women and women of color. Let’s hope his proposed policy does not go through, and the Louisiana legislature instead rededicates itself to providing low-income women with the tools to determine their own reproductive futures.

Check out National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which does great work on these issues. I also recommend Flavin’s book, and Dorothy Roberts’ Killing the Black Body.

Related Posts:
Voices of Justice Now: Sterilization in the Prisons
Do we have the right to decide the fate of disabled youth?
Who’s allowed to reproduce?
Sterilize bad parents?
$450,000 granted to 9 women for forced sterilization

Join the Conversation

  • everybodyever

    “It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, he’s a racist,'” LaBruzzo said. “The hard part is to sit down and think of some solutions.”
    Actually, no, dumbass, low-income women and lawmakers can think and have thought of plenty of solutions: Better sex education, affordable and government-provided contraceptives, government-supported childcare, and readily available abortions.
    His proposal is galling.

  • Roja

    Apart from the blatant racism, and targeting poor people (with the money offer)…
    I don’t understand how you can suggest that women should be STERILIZED to control population!! this seems so ridiculous to me. Are we animals?!
    In Iran (yes! Iran) there was an amazing EDUCATIONAL effort to reduce the population growth (in fact Iran is considered a model in the UN for reducing birth rates).
    you don’t target a specific race or group. you let everyone know that it’s better if we all have less kids. and most importantly like everbodyever said, you make birth control cheap and accessible.
    They just have to be honest with themselves, do they want less birth rates in the US or do they want less birth rates for “some people”?

  • Kbeth

    I bet his proposal doesn’t include sterilization of poor men, does it?

  • Louise

    I’m very disappointed with all of this.
    I’m a huge fan of reproductive responsibility (and I don’t mean not procreating until you’re “ready”, I mean not procreating at all) but I’m also a fan of reproductive rights. So while I think it would be absolutely fantastic if the government offered to pay everyone to get sterilized, or even better, offered to pay for the procedure itself (because it’s ridiculously expensive, especially for women) I do take issue with them encouraging lower-income women to be sterilized. Because that’s not reproductive responsibility, that’s just ensuring that only white, middle-class babies are being born.

  • delicatetbone

    How about offering free sterilization for anyone who wants it? And while you’re at it…comprehensive sex ed, preferencial pricing on birth control, funding for other sexual health items, etc

  • Flippy

    $1000. Really? If I were to donate eggs to a fertility clinic, I’d get multiples of that amount!
    It’s easy to say “oh, he’s a racist” when he comes up with plans like this. Okay, if he’s not racist, than he’s a class supremacist. Is that an improvement?
    (Don’t you love it when people ram their fingers in their ears while the opposition talks and then complain that the opposition has no ideas?)

  • FrumiousB

    Why does poor women’s reproduction need a solution at all? Offering affordable contraception and family planning services still presumes that poor women want to reduce the size of their families. Maybe they don’t.

  • Bee

    sounds strikingly familiar to a speech Margaret Sanger gave in 1926:
    “It now remains for the U.S. government to set a sensible example to the world by offering a bonus or yearly pension to all obviously unfit parents who allow themselves to be sterilized by harmless and scientific means. In this way the moron and the diseased would have no posterity to inherit their unhappy condition. The number of the feeble-minded would decrease and a heavy burden would be lifted from the shoulders of the fit.”

  • distractedbyshinyobjects

    Why hasn’t anyone suggested having poor women *eat* their babies – kill two birds with one stone?
    Oh wait…

  • TheSoyMilkConspiracy

    There are many things that horrify me about forced/coerced sterilizations, but one of the huge questions I’ve always had running through my mind is WHY AREN’T THEY GOING AFTER THE MEN?
    Vasectomies are far less invasive, expensive, and risky than tubal ligations, and one man can produce way more children than one woman. Policies like these are completely, disgustingly classist and racist, but they’re also really blatantly sexist. I watched a documentary on eugenics in Puerto Rico, and the idea of men having the same procedures that women submitted to was laughable to everybody because of that whole “don’t fuck with my penis” macho thing. Such a classic, disturbing, undeniable example of the differences in value we place on the bodies of both women and men, and white people and people of color.

  • penny rose

    “A lot of women are having no children,” Jane Lawler Dye, the author of the report, says. “Also, the women who are having children are having fewer children.”
    Birth rates for non-Hispanic white women, at 1.9 per woman, continue to remain lower than the rate that would be needed to replace the population (2.1 per woman), according to the report that details fertility rates in 2006 for women 15 to 44.
    “The Hispanic population is growing,” Dye says. “The black population is staying about the same, and the white and Asian populations are declining. They’re not replacing themselves. So the population is growing more diverse.”
    I wonder if these statistics have anything to do with his fear of the “dangerous demographic trends”.I believe( my opinion) that there are some white people who are very nervous about the fact that White Women are not having enough babies and they fear being a ‘minority” in this country. That is why you see this big ANTI-CHOICE movement going on.Not just to stop all women from having abortions but especially White Women. Shit, as you can see they would just prefer “poor” women= women of color(for the most part) not to have children at all.

  • alixana

    Why does poor women’s reproduction need a solution at all? Offering affordable contraception and family planning services still presumes that poor women want to reduce the size of their families. Maybe they don’t.
    Or it presumes that poor women should have the same access to these things as affluent women. Obviously not what the genius in the article is proposing, but their income level shouldn’t dictate the level of choice women have.

  • RoRo

    This guy makes my head explode. He doesn’t want “poor” women to procreate, and evidently he wants to use the most intrusive, most expensive, most dehumanizing, and most a**holish way to do it. Forget making sure every community has access to solid and cheap reproductive services. Forget real sex ed and free birth control. Forget — and HERE’S an idea! — giving these women an excellent education so they won’t be poor anymore. (There’s the ticket — don’t fix the “procreate” part, fix the “poor” part! Unless, of course, he really means “black”.)

  • Brianna G

    I actually like the idea of paying people a certain amount to go on various forms of birth control that can be guaranteed– ie, a certain amount for the shot, a certain amount for a IUD insertion, etc. Not yet, because there’s nothing comparably reversible for men, but someday when you can offer a similar program to men.
    But it needs to be REVERSIBLE. EASILY so. That way, a crack-addicted person, or a young mom with two kids who needs some money and a temporary guarantee, can get some money and society benefits from reducing the population and especially encouraging people not to have unwanted children. Then, when the crack addict gets clean and gets a paying job, or the young mom finishes college and wants another baby, they can simply reverse the procedure or let it naturally reverse and have a child when they are financially and emotionally ready for it. Fewer unwanted children, fewer parents who are addicted to drugs, etc. And our issues with overpopulation would help solve themselves, because poorer people (especially men) would have not only free birth control, but would have an incentive to be on it.
    But for an unreversible procedure, targeting only women? That’s ridiculous. Even if you did it, my ability to have children is worth a lot more than $1000. Try $10,000+, and we’re in the ballpark. Yeesh.

  • jstein

    Wow, I thought explicit racists were supposed to be ashamed of themselves, and yet we have this bastard in political office, feeling totally unapologetic about his hate.
    I can think of some words to use, but I’m going to keep them in my head for right now. Don’t need that language on a respectable site, but maybe I’ll email them to these idiots later.


    Whoa! Paying low-income women to get sterilized? It’s unbelievable that in this day and age a legislator would actually propose such preposterous idea.
    How about investing that $1,000/person into more adequate funding for family planning programs, which, contrary to Rep. LaBruzzo’s claim, have actually worked. In fact, the federal government’s family planning program is one of the most successful public health programs in this country’s history. What has actually failed is a policy that has pumped $1.5 billion dollars into abstinence-only programs.
    It’s folks like LaBruzzo who probably support the recent HHS regulations that could severely limit access to contraception in this country. Tomorrow is the public comments deadline to voice your opinion against these regulations. Do so today. Click here to submit them online.

  • trailingclouds

    Frat4437 said:
    I think what LaBruzzo is concerned with is that low income mothers and especially mothers of color will sometimes reproduce in order to receive extra entitlements from the government.
    Cite, please?
    Frat 4437 said:
    Combine that with the fact that currently in America, for every one white baby that is born, 3 black babies and 5 hispanic babies are born.
    How is this relevant? Why does it matter that more babies of color are being born?
    Honestly, this idea doesn’t surprise me. Just yesterday, an opinion article ran in my university’s newspaper suggesting that all women on government assistance be given a mandatory birth control shot. My family has been a welfare family in the past, so I’m unfortunately used to hearing these kinds of suggestions. While the concept doesn’t shock me, it still makes me just as sick every time I read it.

  • Hilary

    Wow, frat5537 and the Louisiana state rep both get a square on Mommy Wars Bingo.

  • nikaetoomas

    The largest incident of sterilization of women to control the population (in the world) happened here in Puerto Rico. There were whole Pueblos without children!

  • Grace

    The article mentions vasectomies for poor men as well.
    AND it offers this gem: “It [the policy] also could include tax incentives for college-educated, higher-income people to have more children, he said.”
    I encourage those in Louisiana to call his office and let him know what you think about this proposed policy. And encourage others you know to do the same. Contact info:

  • Sevvy88

    Ok first off, as I suspected this article only kind of tells half the story.
    He (Labruzzo) says in his statement that vascectomies will be offered to men. And (according to HIS numbers) he claims that more whites are on welfare than blacks. This supposedly clears him of the race claim.
    Now… I live in New Orleans and trust me, generazational welfare is a HUGE issue and it MUST be resolved somehow.
    Is this the way it should be done? No, it’s not. But is this what we reap when we sit behind our blogs and just bitch about how shitty things are and how the government needs to change it? Yes, it is.
    The government isn’t going to take a chance on spending thousands on schools, special programs, and family planning clinics on people who have lived off of the system since day 1. These people live their lives only looking for the next pay off. Sure, there are the few who WANT to do better, but sadly, they are the minority here.
    So, the government doesn’t better them, they control and manipulate them. By offering a quick and easy pay off, they will wipe out the lower class and end generational welfare.
    These people are products of their environments and the government is a sinister being for taking advantage of their misinformed mentality about life…
    It’s a shame… but it’s what we get for just talking about the poor instead of actually helping them…
    TL;DR: Most poor people live for a quick pay check, the government knows this. We only have ourselves to blame.

  • Kristi

    Who knew Ferris Bueller was such a bigot?


    How can such a fine looking man be such a heel?

  • frat4435

    samhita, I was disturbed to find out that you deleted my other comments I made from my other posts, including the one I made on the post called “John Mccain has suspending his campaign, calls for obama to do the same, my comment read “I think this is a selfless and courageous thing Mccain is doing”- that’s all it said.
    Instead of telling me what was wrong with that post, you instead deleted it without anyone knowing or without telling anyone- not good samhita.
    I have read the comments policy and would like to know in what way I violated it by making that comment.
    This is a public blog and I would like to know why you are obviously controlling peoples opinions so much.
    I think at least one other blogger at this website agreed with me- “Wow, so now commenter’s with opposing viewpoints are belittled and then told to go away and never come back? Unfortunately, when you post on a public blog like this you open yourself up to criticism, as I’m sure all the other ladies who post here have noticed. If you don’t want to hear other peoples’ opinions, keep it on a private blog that only your friends can read” -After the way samhita treated me today, I’m afraid I am starting to agree with you, Morgan La Fey.
    samhita, instead of cowardly deleting this comment, I think you need to explain you censorious actions to me and the other posters.
    This is supposed to be a website where women can feel free to express their opinions without being belittled.

  • frat4435

    p.s. sorry guys for putting this comment on so many posts, I’m just afraid samhita will delete it before you guys can see how bad samhita has gotten lately when it comes to deleating people’s different points of view

  • Naomi

    I’m working on a thesis for my Studies in Women and Gender major, and my topic is reproductive control in Virginia during the 1920s. I’ll be focusing on how race and class affected a woman’s ability to have that control. It is *horrifying* to read that article and see the EXACT language that was used to advocate eugenics during the 1920s.
    For me, the most disturbing part of the article wasn’t even the proposal for sterilization. Although that is clearly terrifying, outrageous and stomach turning, I can understand how someone could, in a backwards, twisted, and nonsensical way, believe that it could work. What really gets me, though, is the part where this guy suggested that “college-educated, higher-income people” get tax incentives for having more kids. WHAT?! We’ll pay poor people not to have babies, but then pay rich, educated people to have more?! Racist, sexist, and classist, all at the same time. Next thing you know he’ll be suggesting tax incentives for blonde haired, blue eyed couples…
    Well, LaBruzzo has found his way into my thesis. A place of dishonor–the introductory warning: we must learn from the mistakes of the past, or guys like this will repeat them.

  • michelle233

    This reminds me of the book “Orphans of the Living” by Jennifer Toth, which describes cases of children in foster care. It tells stories of children who have parents living, but they cannot or will not care for them. I have my own personal experiences with foster care, and I know that there are many women who are having children, and clearly don’t want them. They end up doing more damage than can ever be undone. And the kids just repeat the process, and more and more kids are born that aren’t wanted (just like Grace was saying in an earlier post).
    I am very much against forced sterilization, but there has to be some way to stop people from having kids when they clearly don’t want them. I don’t know about adults, but teens definitely should not be having kids (of course there are many teens who are amazing parents, but they would still be amazing parents later on in life). In Toth’s book she speaks of a group home where they gave birth control (the implantable type) for teens in foster care, regardless of whether or not they wanted it.
    I think this is a great idea, but I believe the practice was suspended. I see nothing wrong with mandatory birth control for teens, because it would force teens to actually make a choice of choosing to be a parent, instead of just becoming one by not planning. Forced sterilization for women, I believe is irreversible. I think that these legislators are focusing on the wrong issue, they should be working on making opportunities for low-income families to break the cycle. And one way of doing that is offering, or requiring birth control for teens, not sterilization.

  • fatsweatybetty

    Everyone has the right to bodily autonomy, regardless of age.
    Birth control is great, if freely chosen. However, it is also a medical decision that needs to be made on an individual basis between a girl or woman and her doctor. Some forms of birth control can have adverse affects for certain women and I bet these girls would have little opportunity for good health care in the event that their bodies react badly.
    But that is beside the point anyway. The bottom line is that no one has the right to control another person’s body like that.

  • frat4436

    *update* After reviewing my profile, it actually looks like samhita made it where I can’t post anymore. seriously. Thats why I had to use the name frat4435 instead of frat4437.
    Pretty cowardly samhita, especially since it was you who said to me on the thread called “Un Feminist Guilty Pleasure: Commercial Rap”. when were debating the misogyny in the music industry and I had to step out for a few hours- you said “I think you should read up about the culture of misogyny in hip hop and what produces it, why it is so popular and who is buying into the product. With that extra analysis come back to this debate”
    It turns out that evidently during that time I was gone, (without informing anyone or giving me a warning) you banned me from posting on this website under my original name frat4437. Wow, If you were intimidated to have a debate with me, why not just tell me that, instead of deleting me. lol.
    cowardly, samhita

  • Louise

    I’ve heard a great idea before–some sort of birth control agent in the water. When you get a license to breed, you get the antidote.
    I know, it’s fantastical, and not very feminist of me. But god, would it be convenient.

  • bethmar10

    frat4436, I think that we can all agree that only cowards walk away from or delay debates; however, there is also this little thing called trolling. Think long and hard about it.

  • middlechild

    Thank you michelle223.
    Yes, women can get pregnant (unfortunately it is ONLY women who get pregnant so yes, the burden of this discussion falls on them) and soak that fetus in whatever substance they can get their hands on and bring the baby to term. Someone else on this site (or Feministe) put it eloquently–unless you terminate that pregnancy you are as responsible for that fetus (soon to be CHILD, OUTSIDE YOUR BODY) as you are yourself.
    There has to be a middle ground between forced sterilization and getting people who cannot take PRIMARY responsibility for the children they bring into the world address a short-term factor in generational poverty–before you can blame taxpayers, government, or slow-coming policy intervention.
    All this talk about lack of access to birth control on this site– do they not sell condoms anymore in stores? Am I missing something, or are condoms now MORE expensive than raising a child?
    If the issue is bodily sovereignty of sexually active adults, suppose I said that people who can barely feed themselves, or are addicted to drugs and have no plan/access to treatment for their infant,or have sent previous children into foster care can have as many children as they want (either because they want them, don’t consistently try to avoid pregnancy through birth control or, God forbid, even abstaining from sex), but as soon as that pregnancy leaves the woman’s BODY, the parents are on their own? Problem solved. Women (and men) have control of their bodies under these circumstances, but short of paying for public schools and welfare benefits that entail family caps, they’re to blame for what they can or cannot provide for their children. I will no longer lose sleep over welfare families who are on welfare because they got knocked up despite having few employable skills or a capacity to feed, shelter, clothe and see to the supervision a (or another) child. NOT because of a divorce/separation, the entry of a sick parent into the house, or a post-crisis “spell” on welfare
    That ISN’T what I want. But I am not holding my breath on progress on either front–family planning/education or more responsible aid policies–any time soon. The blame assigned to society and taxpayers doesn’t end with that woman’s “body”, it ends with a child with parents who can’t take primary material or general responsibility for it; that child has needs independent from its parents).
    Children aren’t responsible for the actions of their parents and they don’t choose to be born poor, or in a family with 3 other mouths being fed on minimum wage, welfare, and one exhausted or overwhelmed parent. That’s the argument for welfare and against family caps. If the children aren’t the blame, when are the parents culpable? Don’t rights come with responsibility?
    I am all for strengthening the safety net,closing the gap between cost of living and wages (especially if you have a high school education or less), and loosening the horrible vise the GOP implements on publicly funded reproductive facilities but when it comes to “reproductive rights” why isn’t the possibility that sometimes unwanted/unplanned for children actually suffer and in the short term it is not the taxpayers’ fault–it’s the parents’ fault?
    (Obviously, condoms break, birth control fails, I’m talking about couples who don’t really care either way).
    I guess until this country evolves into the Netherlands people aren’t EVER responsible for their fertility, even if they have access to condoms and they’re not in an abusive relationship that involves rape or contraceptive sabotage.

  • ShifterCat

    “I am very much against forced sterilization, but there has to be some way to stop people from having kids when they clearly don’t want them.”
    Um, that would be comprehensive sex education, cheap and easily available contraception, cheap and easily available abortion, and the abolition of ignorance-only sex education. As other posters have noted.

  • ShifterCat

    To be fair (sorry if the above came off a little snarky), I think poverty reduction measures will count for a lot, also. I had read that there are people who choose to have children because being a parent is generally thought to be praiseworthy, and they have no other way to feel accomplished.
    As far as the availability of condoms go… considering the stories I’ve heard about other forms of contraception being hard to obtain in the Deep South, I wouldn’t be surprised if condoms, too, were often difficult to get, especially for teenagers.
    Then compound that with lack of education on how to use condoms properly to minimize breakage, discomfort, etc., and the Religious Reich’s deliberate misinformation about condoms not working…

  • middlechild

    “I am very much against forced sterilization, but there has to be some way to stop people from having kids when they clearly don’t want them.”
    Um, that would be comprehensive sex education, cheap and easily available contraception, cheap and easily available abortion, and the abolition of ignorance-only sex education. As other posters have noted.”
    What about drug addicts,who may not have a plan to treat infants born jonesing? Are they in their wits to consistently use contraception?
    What about people who are mentally ill? People who have previously lost custody of children for abuse or neglect?
    What about people who are fortunate enough to have access to a local clinic or who can buy condoms, who understand what condoms are FOR, but want children when they can’t feed themselves, have few employable skills, and may not even really understand the time and expense raising a child demands (teenagers)? People who have children in the hopes it will re-vamp a relationship or think that a child will make life feel more rewarding (rewarding…its very rewarding to raise a child by yourself, maybe in a shitty neighborhood, and in a low skill minimum wage job, with minimal support networks or access to day care) or make someone feel like an adult (teenagers)?
    Are those good enough reasons to drop the ball on prevention when you can’t raise a(nother) child without seeking welfare, dropping out of school, and demanding the child’s grandparents help you? What if there are already other children in the family getting the short shrift?
    Until the government leads people by the hand and offers them all the things you listed, they’re not responsible for their fertility even when they DO have contraceptive access and understanding of what “safe sex” and “unintended pregnancy” refer to?

  • middlechild

    In the long term government intervention can reduce poverty, but in the short-term, isn’t having children when you can’t afford to feed yourself a factor in generational poverty? Isn’t it problematic if benefits become more generous but people don’t have smaller families (thus the effect of the added aid is neutralized)?
    Where does it end?

  • Flippy

    People are going to be poor, have children they can’t afford, and abuse welfare. That’s just a fact of life. So, short of completely controlling people’s lives in a totalitarian fashion, all we can do is provide options and lots of encouragement. We may feel we know what’s best for other people, but how much control can we really have over people?
    Where is the line drawn? How would you feel if someone told you that you were raising your children in squalor because you didn’t have X amount of rooms in your not-so-neat house and that, compared to so-and-so i the upper class, your living conditions are completely horrid?
    Besides, isn’t it childish to think that the poor will die out without another poor class moving in to replace them?

  • Danyell

    frat4436- I defended you in the other topic about Hip-Hop, but the comments that you made here are way over the line.
    Yes, it has been projected that before the end of this century (more like 25-50 years, actually) Hispanics will be the majority ethnicity in the US.
    The only reason someone would find this news unsettling is due to racism. A lot of White people are freaked because they may eventually have to lose certain privileges and may not get away with treating Hispanics like crap anymore. Or maybe they just don’t want to feel like a minority?
    But the idea of sterilizing women like they’re stray cats is disgusting. It’s not as if America doesn’t ALREADY have a history of tricking Hispanic women into using drug treatments that make them sterile.
    Should everyone make family planning a concern in their life and think about how many kids to have carefully, not only for themselves, but for the environment as a whole?- YES. But should we be able to choose for them and use selective criteria such as ethnicity, marital status or class/income level to choose who most “deserves” to have babies?- OMG NO!
    I notice that no one offers to sterilize religiously-zealous middle class White Christians who literally have a dozen kids.
    (P.S. My older brother and I are biracial, so we only count as one whole Hispanic and one whole White kid. My half brother is all White, so between the three of us my mom equaled out, race-wise. Maybe she should get a prize?)

  • fatsweatybetty

    It’s a slippery slope when you talk about restricting peoples’ reproductive rights. What about people with disabilities? It could be argued that a) they could pass on any genetic defects or b) they would not be able to properly take care of their kids without using government assistance. What about women who have had X number of abortions, regardless of their reasons or whether or not the circumstances have changed?
    So who gets to decide who does and does not get to reproduce? Please, let me know because by some standards I don’t think I would even be able to reproduce.

  • Brianna G

    Condoms can be very hard to get if you are a teenager who’s parents know the pharmacist. Or if a classmate works at the drugstore checkout. Or if you’re an abused woman whose significant other won’t use them, or if you’re a married woman who is afraid that buying them will make people think you’re cheating. Or if you’re allergic to latex.
    Meanwhile, condoms are always a good idea… in combination with a second form of birth control like spermicide if you can’t take hormonal BC, but ideally, hormonal BC. And that’s money, and a doctor’s appointment, and still not as good as say, the shot or an IUD available to women who are abused or living with controlling parents, and need to hide their reproductive choices. All expensive.
    All birth control should be free, and yes, birth control that we can know a person is using– like the shot, IUD, etc– should have cash incentives. Primarily not to target poor hardworking minorities, but instead to target people who are not ready to have children because they can barely feed themselves. More importantly, for drug addicts and homeless people and people who either are unwilling or are not yet able to control their mental illness with medication and therapy.
    Sterilize them? No. I would only support sterilization in the case of people who had their own children removed from their care for serious abuse or neglect, as a condition of their release; or, of course, if the person wanted it, it should be free. But if you encourage people to go on birth control with cash incentives, they get some money to help them get on their feet and we in exchange have fewer children that can’t be cared for, and a reduced population. You can’t use it as an excuse to ignore other aspects of reproductive health education, but you could certainly do it IN ADDITION to education and easy access.
    And to fatsweatybetty: I see no problem in offering additional incentive to people with DEBILITATING genetic conditions (ie, not someone who has some minor issue, people with serious, painful conditions or carriers for fatal illnesses). But, here’s the thing, it would have to be OPTIONAL. If an individual decides they want to have a child, they should have that right. That doesn’t mean we can’t gently offer financial incentives to people who voluntarily decide to go on a long-term birth control method, as long as they are not forced or coerced into it.

  • Jolynn

    Why not just overturn Hyde?
    According to Guttmacher, up to 35% of women on Medicaid would have had an abortion if they could have afforded it.

  • middlechild

    Should everyone make family planning a concern in their life and think about how many kids to have carefully, not only for themselves, but for the environment as a whole?- YES. But should we be able to choose for them and use selective criteria such as ethnicity, marital status or class/income level to choose who most “deserves” to have babies?- OMG NO!”
    And you divorce “planning for a child’s life” from “income/class”….how? How is it that parenting doesn’t seem to involve taking PRIMARY culpability–BEFORE TAXPAYERS–for children’s welfare, including their material welfare and supervision of their basic safety? (There is a difference between a kid falling down, or bumping their head on the coffee table, or breaking an arm, or even getting a burn, b/c their parent turns their backs for a minute, but what about general negligence?) Blame society, of course–they don’t provide daycare. (Not that that’d be a bad idea, our safety net and childcare policies are messed up, but does that make up for a parent who may be incapable of even ATTEMPTING to parent?)
    “I notice that no one offers to sterilize religiously-zealous middle class White Christians who literally have a dozen kids.
    I loath the religious right and their voters, but unless they’re abusing their kids or society is investing more in such families than they’re returning (i.e. the kids turn out to be abusive or neglectful parents themselves; they become criminals; they don’t contribute to the economy or civic development in any meaningful way; etc.)…you can’t see the disparity?
    I’m not leaving working class people making just enough to starve (even they should be held responsible for having more kids than they can take primary responsibility for under normal circumstances….”abnormal” meaning a job loss, a health crisis, a family emergency, etc.) out of that group who return the investment we make in public schools, child safety laws, etc.
    But between two teenagers or couple in their early twenties who has a kid (even if a blue state, and with relative access to contraception, and with full awareness of what “safe sex” refers to) and expects Grandma to raise it, has few employable skills, maybe isn’t even mature enough to shoulder the responsibility of raising a healthy child yet, and is raising that kid in a neighborhood where adolescent peer norms aren’t exactly constructive–between that young couple and those “middle class zealots” who can afford to raise their child in a relatively stable environment–who is gambling on their child’s development? Which of the two children is now at the mercy of the welfare system and essentially waiting for an upheaval in that school district or neighborhood that will make the experiences between their families less unequal (especially once the kids reach adolescence and parents have less influence than peers)?
    Can government intervention be blamed for a parent who is struggling with one kid, has access to condoms, receives benefits and then ends up with four kids? (Not that being well-off means a parent is supportive or competent, but it doesn’t hurt, and sometimes material stability and capacity to plan are indicators of the chance that family will have at being basically functional). What if that couple is struggling to RAISE one kid, let alone four, can government really make up that much for shitty parenting throughout that kid’s life?
    “I would only support sterilization in the case of people who had their own children removed from their care for serious abuse or neglect, as a condition of their release; or, of course, if the person wanted it, it should be free.”
    They can file a court order to bar people who abuse and neglect PETS from ever owning an animal again (how could they enforce it), but anyone –maybe short of sex offenders–can keep having children. I can imagine the abuse of a policy involving “enforced sterilization” but what else can you do? Again–I guess they’re not responsible until this country has a stellar (and likely pretty damn expensive) child welfare system (blame bureaucrats first, not parents!) and drug rehab system. I’m not holding my breath. Even then, unless social workers start living with an “at-risk” family to monitor parents who may kick one kid into the system or lose them to the state for GENUINE abuse/neglect and have more, DESPITE BEING NO BETTER AS PARENTS–why should anything change?
    Human beings can give birth to one class of helpless financial dependents. That’s pretty much the only difference. That and the stakes are higher with children than pets, or should be.
    Having working sex organs does and being entitled to the rights of “sexual freedom” “bodily sovereignty” is separate from actually fulfilling the responsibility of being a parent, and there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground that acknowledges that–it’s either assholes who hold marriage as a panacea and are ready to overturn Roe or this.
    When do rights come with PERSONAL responsibility in this issue, before you can blame those admittedly loathsome right-wingers who are primarily targeting federally funded reproductive facilities and red states? What about in blue states and areas where there IS access to contraception from clinics, hospitals, or the damn drug store?
    Who is holding their breath waiting for contraception to be free and for this ass backwards country–blue state, red state, whatever—to take children,family planning and STIs seriously?

  • Amanadoo

    What I’m wondering is why it never occurred to these guys to sterilize low class men?

  • sue

    Okay I have to say it, Why didn’t we offer LaBruzzo a few hundred for his sterilization. Anyone heard of rectroactive abortion. Maybe we could offer his mother a 1,000 to have that procedure done. Just a thought

  • susanb

    they should not be able to tell anybody what to do. I am not sure what they are thinking. They should definitely stay away from this issue.
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