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Study: Latinas Targeted For Sterilizations In US

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File photo of a female sterilization process. (credit: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/GettyImages)

File photo of a female sterilization process. (credit: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/GettyImages)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS Sacramento) – A new study provides a disturbing look at a health trend that targeted Latinas in America in the early to mid-1900. Many were disproportionately targeted for sterilizations in mental health and health institutions.

The study from the University of Michigan found that 20 percent to 30 percent of women in California with Spanish surnames from 1922 to 1952 were targeted and sterilized for the removal of their Fallopian tubes.

University of Michigan Prof. Alexandra Minna, the author of the study, told Politic365 that racism played a pivotal role in the screening of these procedures.

“It’s an important component of the racism that Latina/os faced in California,” Minna said. “Our research suggests that Mexican-origin women were disproportionately sterilized, institutionalized, and labeled as ‘feebleminded’ or ‘developmentally disabled.’”

She added: “The devaluing of Mexican reproduction has a long history in California, and set the stage for the nonconsensual sterilizations of post-partrum Mexican-origin women at USC-Los Angeles County Hospital in the 1970s. The devaluation continues to today through health care restrictions related to immigration status and limited access to and availability of reproductive health services among Latina/os and people of color.”

And the sterilizations didn’t just happen in California. Between 1907 and 1980, 60,000 sterilizations were documented in states with similar laws based on the California law, according to the study. In that study, it found that black women were targeted in North Carolina in a similar fashion to Latinas in California.

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