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DeFine, Michael Sullivan. “A History of Governmentally Coerced Sterilization: The Plight of the Native American Woman.” University of Maine School of Law, May 1997, 1–11.


This article focuses on Native-American women’s stories about coerced sterilization. Michael Sullivan DeFine discusses how eugenics played an important role in deciding who was coerced into being sterilized. This forced sterilization of Native-American women was partly a product of Eurocentric notions that only certain populations were “fit to reproduce” and others deemed “unfit” (e.g., people of color, immigrants, and Native American women) should have their reproduction policed by authorities. Sullivan Define compares sterilization rates of Native- and non-native women, buttressing claims about medical abuse. The government defended its actions with an investigation that interviewed members of the medical establishment and not women who were sterilized. This article gives a clear, concise introduction of the issues Native-American women have experienced at the hands of the Indian Health Service. Sullivan Define supports his statements with statistics, demonstrating that Native-American women were sterilized without their consent.  The author writes through a social justice lens, and he is hoping to get the readers to be critical of the science that has influenced what he believes are racist and sexist policies.


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Related Topics

Government regulation   Race/ethnicity: Native American/Indigenous   Sterilization   Eugenics