American "racial" demographics

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Mon Jul 13 19:00:09 PDT 1998

I would not surprised if there is an active eugenic policy carried out against the so-called developmentally challenged. And I don't know if Native American women are being sterilized or being tricked into being sterilized or given no other contraceptive option but sterilization before they have birthed a desired number of children (they are certainly sterilized at a rate higher than the national average)--that is, I don't know if there is an active state policy to reduce the Native American population which has increased from .3 to .8 per cent of the national population over the century, according to data in this Rostow book. What is the birth rate for Native American women?

I don't think all sterilizations are carried out by trickery or deceit, though at the same time sterilization cannot be said to be freely chosen; sterilization has become America's most popular form of birth control. I am wondering whether women can really be said to be free to choose it if a. abortion and other contraceptive measures (other than that horrible Norplant) are not freely available (and for the poor, only sterilization and Norplant are paid for by the state)and b. if they are not informed of the health risks. What I am suggesting is that seemingly voluntary sterilizations are not voluntary under these conditions.

I do not know at what percentage of non white Hispanic women use sterilization as a form of birth control. It's important to underline that sterilization rates and birth rates are not necessarily positively correlated. That is, groups of women with the highest birth rates may also have the highest sterilization rates. And this seems to be the case. We can't jump to conclusion that those groups with the highest sterilization rates are being targeted for racial elimination. But neither can we infer from the higher birth rates of certain minority groups and the poor that they have not been subjected to a much greater risk of "involuntary" sterilization in the broadest sense of that term.

That is, black or poor women may be more often sterilized after they have a had desired number of children (and that number is higher than for other groups of women) while other women tend to prevent future undesired births either through abortion or other forms of contraception (including partner's vasectomies; don't have class comparative data on vasectomies either). The greater rates of sterilization may well be evidence of race/class abuse, i.e., certain women may get sterilized because they fear they won't be able to afford an abortion or doctors consider them good targets for over-surgery, while at the same time that greater rate of sterilization may not be evidence of a state project at racial genocide, though it is conceivable that if reversible forms of birth control were more widely used among poor and poor minority women, their birth rates would be even more over the national average than presently.

The most important point seems to be this however:if abortion were freely available--which black nationalists fight with counterproductive effect, to say nothing of the assault on women's autonomy--poor and poor minority women may not decide to sterilize themselves at as high rates as presently.

As compared to other forms of birth control available to women after they have finished their child-bearing years, I don't also don't know the comparative safety of sterilization, though I was surpised to learn of the many health risks which seem to follow upon sterilization, tubal ligations, and vasectomies. It seems disturbing then that sterilization has become the most popular form of birth control.

best, rakesh

ps. please direct me to all relevant readings you have done. A lot of what I have written here is conjecture.

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