3152.0: Monday, November 13, 2000 - 2:30 PM

Abstract #6013

Sterilization abuse: Better policies, better information, better health care

Helen Rodriguez-Trias, MD, Pacific Institute for Women's Health, Brookdale, CA 95007, 831-338-2369, N/A

Sparked initially by a study showing that women of childbearing age in Puerto Rico were more than 10 times more likely to be sterilized than were women from the United States, the movement against sterilization abuse accomplished enormous changes in health care policy and practice in the United States in the 1970s. Efforts by feminist health activists to publicize the abuses taking place in Puerto Rico quickly led to the revelation that similar coercive strategies were being used against women of color and low-income women in the United States. To address this problem, a group of reproductive rights activists formed the Committee to End Sterilization Abuse (CESA). Others later coalesced around abortion rights as well, founding organizations such as the Coalition for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA). These groups identified the weaknesses in existing guidelines for sterilization practices and worked with New York City authorities to improve sterilization policies and practices locally. Eventually, the activists' success expanded to the national level when the New York guidelines were adopted federally. The presentation is a description of the development of the movement to end sterilization abuse. It includes a historical perspective on sterilization in the U S, the types of abuses through time and the policies developed to curtail them. It will provide a look forward to the legacy of this movement in surmounting barriers that confront low-income and women of color today as they seek reproductive services and freedom.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: 1. describe the development of the U.S. movement to end sterilization abuse 2. identify the types of sterilization abuse that have taken place in the United States 3. identify policies that have successfully curtailed such abuses 4. discuss the impact of the sterilization abuse movement on current efforts to preserve and expand reproductive rights for low-income women and women of color

Keywords: Reproductive Health, Latinas

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA