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.