Sterilization abuse--involuntary sterilization--of the poor, people of color, and people with disabilities is a dirty open secret of US and global history that still hasn't gone away.
It is also a form of reproductive coercion to deny sterilization procedures to people who want them. I wonder how many undesired pregnancies and abortions arise from this. In the US, there are (at least) two, sometimes overlapping groups of women who face considerable barriers to voluntary sterilization:
- Women under 30, no matter how durable, carefully considered, and thoughtful their decisions to become sterilized. Physicians may refuse them the services they need, claiming that they are too young to make such permanent decisions--especially if they are white, healthy, and/or not poor. The same physicians may still be all too eager to sterilize younger women from the traditionally coerced groups instead of exploring with them the full range of contraceptive options...eugenics is still with us...
- Women who cannot afford sterilization, which out of pocket can cost thousands of dollars--and who has that sort of cash lying around? A majority of private health plans cover sterilization procedures, but what about women covered by the minority of plans that don't? What about uninsured women? What about poor women who rely on Title X and other public programs, who are constantly threatened by funding cuts and anti-contraceptive politics?
If you are from the US, please contact your elected officials and urge that they remove these barriers to voluntary, fully informed sterilization. You can point out both that (1) voluntary sterilization is a human right and (2) it is an effective way to reduce abortions.