The Little-Known History of the Forced Sterilization of Native American Women
Two fifteen-year-old Native American women went into the hospital for tonsillectomies and came out with tubal ligations. Another Native American woman requested a “womb transplant,” only to reveal that she had been told that was an option after her uterus had been removed against her will. Cheyenne women had their Fallopian tubes severed, sometimes after being told that they could be “untied” again.
For many, America’s history of brutal experimentation on people of color is perhaps best summed up by the Tuskegee Experiment, in which doctors let African-American men suffer from syphilis over a period of 40 years. But another medical outrage is less well-known. Jane Lawrence documents the forced sterilization of thousands of Native American women by the Indian Health Service in the 1960s and 1970s—procedures thought to have been performed on one out of every four Native American women at the time, against their knowledge or consent.