So when new allegations emerged about situations in ICE custody, she says, it wasn’t arduous to make a connection.
“The story gained so much traction immediately with people, because there’s such a long history affecting many different racial and ethnic groups, across many institutions — mental health hospitals, public hospitals, prisons,” she says.
As particulars emerge, Molina and different students say they see this week’s allegations as the newest chapter in a protracted and troubling history.
The history of forced sterilization within the US dates again greater than a century
“This could be seen as a recent episode in a much longer trajectory of sterilization abuse and reproductive injustice,” says Alexandra Minna Stern, a professor and affiliate dean on the University of Michigan.
Indiana handed the world’s first eugenics sterilization legislation in 1907. And from there, Stern says, 31 different US states adopted go well with.
“Under those laws, about 60,000 people were sterilized in procedures that we would qualify today as being compulsory, forced, involuntary, and under the justifications that the people who were being sterilized were unfit to reproduce,” she says.
The legal guidelines, which led to officers ordering sterilizations of folks they deemed “feeble-minded” or “mentally defective,” later turned fashions for Nazi Germany.
Lawmakers are invoking this history as they name for an investigation
Alan Kraut, an immigration historian and professor at American University, says he sees parallels with the previous within the latest accusations. But simply because one thing occurred traditionally, he says, doesn’t suggest it is occurring now.
“Without evidence I really hesitate to say, ‘Yeah, they’re probably doing sterilizations just the way they used to do in the 1920s.’ I’m not willing to say that. … That’s really a heavy-duty accusation,” he says. “And I think we should all be asking, is there any evidence of this? Not just rumor, not just he said-she said, but an investigation. There needs to be an investigation of who’s been mistreated, how they’ve been mistreated, and whether or not there’s anything to this, because it is extremely, extremely serious.”
There have been newer sterilizations, too
“In that case, a whistleblower much like today came forward with evidence that Latinas were being tricked, coerced, and forced into sterilization,” she wrote. “Much like today’s case…the women often had little to no grasp of English, leaving them vulnerable to coercion.”
This history was already on students’ minds earlier than the latest allegations got here up
Molina says the coronavirus pandemic already had quite a bit of students enthusiastic about this history just lately, even earlier than the whistleblower’s grievance.
“Many of us have been thinking about this history recently as we start thinking about who’s going to get the (Covid-19) vaccine,” she says, “and are communities of color going to be trusting the government?”
“That is another way in which we see the government abusing medical power, medical ethics, and seeing certain populations as more disposable,” Molina says.
“What was done cannot be undone, but we can end the silence,” he stated. “We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye, and finally say, on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful and I am sorry.”
Awareness about forced sterilization has grown, however quite a bit of folks nonetheless do not learn about it
Some states in recent times have issued apologies for forced sterilizations, and consciousness concerning the follow within the US has grown. But Stern says the history nonetheless is not taught in many colleges or as extensively recognized accurately.
“One reason is that many of these sterilizations took place in institutions that again had no accountability. … All of this was happening behind closed doors. People weren’t necessarily aware of it,” she says. “People who were subjects to this sterilization, many of the survivors still to this day find it so painful and hard to talk about that experience, it’s so marked with shame and secrecy for them, that it’s not like they’re writing long confessionals about it. But some have.”
“She was subjected to what she called the ‘Mississippi appendectomy,'” Stern says, “where young Black women were taken into local clinics and sterilized. … That was really a motivating factor to her in her activism.”
Stern says studying — and sharing — this history is essential.
“It’s important to know that America was profoundly shaped by the Eugenics Movement. … The legacies continue to play out and the lessons have not been learned,” she says. “It’s an integral part of understanding the history of inequality in the United States, and how social ideas can be twisted to promote dehumanization.”