The Sterilization of Native American Women in the 1970's Essay

2796 Words12 Pages
The Scythe and the Scalpel: Dissecting the Sterilizations of Native American Women in the 1970's In the old days, genocide used to be so simple. Such things as biological warfare used to keep Indians warm with small pox infested blankets furnished by the United States government, and the only thing barren and infertile was the land set aside for reservations. In the 1970s, genocide became a little more complex. Biological warfare invaded the reproductive rights of Native American women, making their wombs as barren and infertile as reservation land. The sterilization policies during this time perpetuated the genocidal tendencies that have made the eugenics movement a viable legacy of terror in the biological history of Native…show more content…
4). In fact, the federally funded Indian Health Service, the very agency that was supposed to protect and provide for Indians, was the perpetrator of these sterilizations. The American Indian Policy Review Commission's report on the health of Native Americans said it best when they stated,"the federal responsibility to provide health services to Indians has its roots in the unique moral, historical, and treaty obligations of the federal government, no court has ever ruled on the precise nature of that legal basis nor defined the specific legal rights for Indians created by those obligations" (DeFine 1997 p.4). Thus, the Indian Health Service has always worked in strange and ambiguous ways. By the time sterilization for both the poor and minorities became an official sanction in 1970, and reservation populations became main targets of this policy, the IHS was ready to initiate its campaign against Indian women. Policy turned into perpetration, and people turned into victims. For example, in 1970 a twenty six year old Native American woman went into the office of a Los Angeles doctor and asked for a "womb transplant" (Johansen 1998). She was devastated when she was told that

More about The Sterilization of Native American Women in the 1970's Essay

Open Document