On Mon, 13 Jul 1998, Rakesh Bhandari wrote:
> Over on marxism-thaxis in a conversation that went private, I had an
> argument about whether the higher rates of sterilization of black women in
> comparison to white women suggests a state policy of racial genocide. I
> argued not. I argued that the sterilization seems to happen after the
> woman has had all the child births she wants, though poor and in
> particular black women seem to be denied the same oppty to forms of birth
> control other than sterilization; I agreed however that doctors may for
> various reasons perform sterilizations or tubal ligations or even
> unnecessary hysteroctomies more often on minority women than even on
> other poor white women (it's a way to make medicaid bucks as only
> sterilization and norplant are subsidized, less qualms about oversurgery
> on racialized people, etc); I pointed to the difficulty white women have
> had in getting hospitals to agree to perform tubal ligations which seems
> to account for some of the disparity (the percentage of black women
> sterilized seems to be 1.5x greater than white women, though some claim it
> is 3x as high); and finally I suggested that many poor women consent to
> sterilizations because they are fearful that they may not be able to
> afford an abortion later.
At the beginning of this section you referred to Black women. Does this change if you take into account Hispanic women? I know that there was a substantial amount of involuntary sterilizations of Native American women. I've read about, although I'll have to dig out the cites, a number of articles about women who gave birth and as a matter of course, without their consent, got hysterectomies or tubal ligations. For years I worked with women who had mental retardation. All of them recieved Norplant; Iwatch a woman try to rip it out of her arm a few times. Our women didn't really consent to it. They were asked, "you don't want to get pregnant, do you?" That doesn't really qualify as informed consent does it? And Henry Foster, up for confirmation as Surgeon General, ran into some trouble when it turned out that he wanted to perform hysterectomies on developmentally disabled women, because it was easier than allowing them their menstrual cycles. I mention them because I wonder if, rather than racial genocide, we have an unofficial eugenics program.
> I then underlined that as many black nationalists act like their
> white Christian brother maniacs in denouncing family planning centers and
> abortion clinics, they may be contributing to poor and black women
> consenting to sterilization--that is bringing about the very acts of what
> they term black genocide which had them oppose freely available abortions
> altogether. This is leading many minority nationalists, in
> particular the Nation of Islam, to want to smash family planning and
> abortion clinics. This dangerous tendency must be fought.
Did the NOI ever have a better position on abortion? While they might not have been outspoken in their opposition to it, it's difficult for me to believe that they were ever pro-choice. But if you know otherwise, let me know...