Professor Jerry Flores recently published an article titled “ICE detainees’ alleged hysterectomies recall a long history of forced sterilizations” on theconversation.com. Flores recounts the longstanding history of forced sterilizations in U.S. institutions to expose the ongoing harm on Latina, migrant, refugee, Black, Indigenous and at-risk women in the medical sphere.
Professor Flores traces stories of medical negligence and forced medical procedures from the 1950’s in Puerto Rico up until recent accusations against U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) facilities. The recurring scandals of coerced, non-consensual sterilizations in U.S. hospitals and prisons lead Professor Flores to call for international investigations in both the U.S. and Canada, as an effort to end “this type of genocide” against immigrants and people of colour.
Jerry Flores is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto, with teaching responsibilities at the Mississauga campus. His areas of interest include studies of gender and crime, prison studies, alternative schools, ethnographic research methods, Latinx sociology and studies of race and ethnicity.
We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. Read the full post on The Conversation here.
ICE detainees’ alleged hysterectomies recall a long history of forced sterilizations
By Jerry Flores, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto[…]
Mon., Sep. 28, 2020
I am motivated by stories from women like my mother, Carmen, who gave birth to me in 1985 when she was 19 years old. When Carmen recounts the story of my birth, she always mentions how I was born on a sunny afternoon. But she spent multiple weeks with a high fever, likely due to a post-birth infection. She was surrounded by medical staff who did not speak Spanish.
My mother still doesn’t know why or how she became unwell.
After hearing many more stories of medical negligence and forced medical procedures in the course of my research, I am no longer surprised when I hear about the U.S. victimizing Indigenous Peoples like my grandparents or other members of my community.
The most at-risk women are usually the ones who experience the brunt of these forced sterilizations.
A tragic example comes from women who lived in Puerto Rico in the ’50s and ’60s. They were given an experimental drug by researchers interested in creating a birth control pill. Those women experienced serious side effects like blood clotting and infertility. They were not given information. These trials, also connected to a sterilization program, were in part eugenics and in part corporate pharmaceutical research. Approximately one-third of Puerto Rican women were sterilized — many involuntarily.