America’s shameful tradition of negative eugenics

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In an unapologetic effort to make a difference for those who suffer tragically for no reason other than their race, nurse Dawn Wooten became a whistle-blower when she reported that ICE is performing hysterectomies on immigrant women without their consent at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.

While working at the private facility, Wooten said that the lack of medical care and overall sanitation experienced by these women was severely inhumane. “They would have a procedure to where they would have to fill out forms to be seen and those forms would be shredded … the sanitation was horrible, especially with COVID. We didn’t have anything to sanitize with,” Wooten said.

When asked what happen to these women after the procedures, Wooten confirmed that most of them would be deported back to their countries.

Although this news went viral attention via social media, it should be no surprise to those who know the history of medical abuse, neglect and negative eugenics against Black people and people of color in America.

Negative eugenics is aimed to eliminate, through sterilization or segregation, people who are considered “undesirable.” This includes but is not limited to forced abortions and sterilizations. There are multiple events where America used negative eugenics as a method of genocide to put an end to a group of people.

The Family Planning Services and Population Research Act, passed in 1970, encouraged sterilization for patients who relied on Medicaid or received their health care through the Indian Health Service. This act impacted the Native American population negatively while accounting for at least 25 percent of women who met the childbearing age.

America’s determination to control and ultimately eliminate populations it acknowledges as “feebleminded” —  stupid or foolish — or undesirable, dates back as far as slavery. The “father of psychology” J. Marian Sims performed various experiments on enslaved women resulting in the death of many mothers and babies both born and unborn. His absence of anesthesia was justified by his belief that Black people could not feel pain, which furthered his experimentation and still creates bias practices in the medical field today.

Medical abuse and neglect are familiar American traditions with examples like the Tuskegee experiment where 600 men were injected with syphilis and left untreated. They were told they were being treated for bad blood but unfortunately were human experiments monitored by health workers and only given placebos as treatment. Many died during this experiment and passed the disease along to their spouses and others.

Like the ICE sterilizations, from 2006 to 2010, physicians working for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation performed tubal ligations on 148 women after they gave birth while incarcerated, as reported by Reveal.

Another case of population control took place in 2017, when a Tennessee judge offered inmates reduced sentences and early release dates if they “voluntarily agreed” to have a vasectomy. Prohibiting a person’s natural right to have children and relating it to their freedom is essentially robbing them of a life worth living.

The continuous disadvantages that African Americans, people of color, and especially their women are forced to live with, are limitless but deserve to be acknowledged and fixed. Most of these women were not aware of the procedures done to them and were victims of North Carolina’s sterilization program.

Elaine Riddick said, “I was raped twice …once by the perpetrator and once by the state of North Carolina.”

At the end of her interview with MSNBC, Wooten sent a message of light and hope to the women at her facility, saying, “I understand completely how it feels to be overlooked and neglected, just not neglected in silence … this outcome doesn’t mean it’s over,” she added while whipping tears from her eyes.