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The Targeting of Women in Sterilization Policy

            The policy of involuntary or coerced sterilization is one that has been around since the invention of the technology to perform it. Initially it targeted mentally handicapped or deformed people, but with the rise of eugenics movements this concept was given broader application, particularly in forwarding one individual's vision of how society should be made up. In the 20th century one of the prevalent themes in these types of sterilizations has been the targeting of women for this procedure. .
             In the US Involuntary Sterilization is not a new concept. Although it was not widely discussed for many years, it rose to the light with the rise of the Eugenics movement in the early 20th century. At this time the US was being inundated with immigrants and those who were in power, backed by various nativist factions, were searching for something to keep the immigrants from diluting the good American genes, as they saw it. It was around this time when we can find clear examples of the targeting of women for sterilization. One such example was the targeting of immigrant and working-class girls who were seen to be sexually promiscuous. At this time many Cities and States instituted morality laws, under whose guidelines many girls were either sent to reformatories or forced to undergo sterilization. This was promoted by social workers of the time who helped push the movement to criminalize adolescent female sexual activity1. .
             In North Carolina between 1929 and 1975, the state's Eugenics Board authorized over 8000 sterilizations2. The bulk of these were on poor and minority women. This has long been a big point of individuals who support women's rights, sterilization is seen at a tool of repression while birth control is seen as positive a thing. While records do indicate that the most of the women sterilized had requested the procedure, there is no way to tell how many of these had been coerced by family or social workers into making that decision.

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