Women Need Reproductive Choice

April 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

“Contemporary Challenges To Black Women’s Reproductive Rights” by Jeanne Flavin discusses an added level to challenges women face dealing with their reproductive rights: race. As we’ve talked about since the beginning of this course, minorities face discrimination in different ways and at different levels of each other. This essay discusses black women and their reproductive rights. What I found most interesting is the idea of “family caps”, the idea to limit the number of children allowed in a family. It is sad to think that black women were seen as “undesirable” and thus were sterilized in different ways. There were sterilization against these women’s will, sterilization of perceived “genetically inferior”, used under the claim to “cut welfare costs”, and then for women on welfare or faced with drug charges. This forced sterilization reminds me quite frankly of the Nazis in World War II. Yes, they were much different scenarios but sterilizing “undesirables” and “genetically inferior” women reminds me of Hitler’s talk of a master race. It is disappointing to think that this blatant racism existed in America while we were supposedly being a global policeman of freedoms.

Welfare programs have added “family caps” in the hopes that it will deter women from having children to make more money, yet there is no evidence to support that women do this. This idea portrays the stereotype of the “welfare queen” we discussed in conjunction to women’s work. It is damaging and only hurts a program that was first designed to help families take care of their children. A major problem I see in this issue is that as American’s we believe in pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps (a part of masculinity, especially in “Taking It” by Leonard Kriegel) and welfare seems to contradict this fact. Instead we see recipients as lazy and questionable characters. It also feeds into our perceptions of needing to control women’s reproductive rights, to stop the poor from growing in numbers in a way that we think is best. Instead we are only trampling over women’s (black women in this case) rights. Sterilizing is wrong, and on a different level, so is the idea of women having children to make more money on welfare and therefore needing “family caps”.  Instead of limiting women’s autonomy of her reproductive rights, we need to enhance it. By providing women with education and resources they would be able to make and control their reproductive choices in a way that best fits them.

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§ 2 Responses to Women Need Reproductive Choice

  • This blatant racism is absolutely ridiculous! Growing up in predominantly white schools, there were many programs always coming to teach us about birth control and reproductive choices. Why do areas of poverty and towns made up of predominantly blacks not get this same education and privileges? Just like you said, this scenario does compare to Nazis and even the discrimination against women in the Middle East. Why does America feel the need to stop these problems in other countries, but they treat African American women like they are monsters who have a plague. I absoluitely hate the excuse of women having babies just to get more money. That is just outright stupid. The amount of money the government even gives, is not enough to even pay for another child, yet alone go by nice things or drugs. The government is looking at society in the wrong light, and it is very wrong. If the government wants to point fingers at black women for reproducing too much, then the government should give them the same rights and education as they do for whites. If the government wants a family cap, then provide birth control and health care to women in poverty!

  • qsthomson says:

    I think the biggest issue with the cap is the simple fact that the government believes in the outdated and non-factual belief that women are seeking money to raise children. Not only is this idea untrue and not based on any factual evidence, it does indeed, as pointed out by Flavin, only further the difficulties for children being raised in an impoverished family. On top of that, it does not provide any legitimate incentive for other women potentially considering having more children for welfare checks to stop having children.

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