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F.5.a.iii. The Americas

Ko, Lisa, Unwanted sterilization and eugenics programs in the United States, Independent Lens, 29/01/2006,

Ko explores the US policy of coerced sterilization in the 20th century, implemented through federal funding in 32 states.  Sterilization was used to control ‘undesirable’ groups such as immigrants, people of colour, the poor, disabled or mentally ill and unmarried mothers.

See also: DenHoed, Andrea, ‘The Forgotten Lessons of the American Eugenics Movement’, The New Yorker, 27 April 2016.

See also: Pandit, Eesha, ‘America's secret history of forced sterilization: Remembering a disturbing and not-so-distant past, Salon, 30 January 2016.

Lizarzaburu, Javier, Forced sterilisation haunts Peruvian women decades on, BBC, 02/12/2015,

Looks back to key findings of Peru’s Ombudsman enquiry (1997 to 2002) into sterilization of Indigenous women. This official policy, according to data released by the Health Ministry in 2002, Involved tubal-ligation operations on 260.874 women between 1996 and 2000.

See also: van Eerten, Jurrian, ‘Peru's history of forced sterilisation overshadows vote’, AlJazeera, 8 April 2016.

See also Mcelroy, Wendy, ‘U.N. Complicit in Forced Sterilizations’, Independent Institute, 23 December 2002.

Pegoro, Leonardo, Second rate victims: the forced sterilization of Indigenous peoples in the USA and Canada, Settler Colonial Studies, Vol. 5, issue 2, 2015, pp. 161-173

The author examines the decades of enforced sterilization of Indigenous women in North America in the 20th century and the influence of eugenics ideologies on this policy.  Use of sterilization was most common from the 1940s to the 1970s, when the Indigenous populations began (after centuries of decline) to increase in numbers. This trend alarmed both eugenicists anxious to maintain racial ‘purity’, and corporations seeking to exploit resources on indigenous lands. 

See also: Howard-Hassmann, Rhoda, ‘Forced sterilizations of Indigenous women: One more act of genocide’, The Conversation, 4 March 2019.

See also: Virdi, Jaipreet, ‘The coerced sterilization of Indigenous women’, New Internationalist, 30 November 2018.

Both links expose the forced sterilization of Canadian Indigenous women for several decades, up to the 2000s.

Shilpa, Jindia, Belly of the Beast: California's dark history of forced sterilizations, The Guardian, 30/06/2020,

Filmed over seven years, Erika Cohn’s Belly of the Beast exposes state-sanctioned sterilizations in California prisons through the story of Kelli Dillon, who was forcibly sterilized while incarcerated at the Central California women’s facility in Chowchilla, and her lawyer Cynthia Chandler.

Theobald, Brianna, A 1970 Law Led to the Mass Sterilization of Native American Women. That History Still Matters, Time, 27/11/2019,

Investigates the history of the forced sterilization of Native American Women as a practice that reflects the history of U.S. colonialism.

See also on forced sterilization of Latino men and women: Novak, Nicole and Natalie Lira, ‘Forced sterilization targeted Americans of color, leaving lasting impact’, The Philadelphia Inquirer, 23 March 2018.

The link to the documentary ‘No Más Bebés’ (No More Babies), which tells the story of immigrant mothers who sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were pushed into sterilizations while giving birth at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s can be found here