medical experimentation and clinical practice

  • The forced sterilization of black women (what civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer plaintively called her “Mississippi appendectomy”) got its start during slavery, but has persisted in less overt forms in recent years. A 1991 experiment that implanted the now-defunct birth control device Norplant into African American teenagers in Baltimore was applauded by some observers as a way to “reduce the underclass.” (Rivera 2007)
  • [I]n 1957, a physician at a New York teaching hospital proclaimed that “Sterilization by hysterectomy is encouraged on the ward service in order to offer the resident staff experience in the operation puerpural hysterectomy.” [Guttmacher, Alan. 1957. “Puerperal Sterilization on the Private and Ward Services of a Large Metropolitan Hospital. Fertility and Sterility 8 (6):591-602.] (CCESA 1977)
  • Dr. Lester Hibbard of L.A. County Hospital admits in 1972 that vaginal tubal ligations were sometimes selected over abdominal tubal ligations because of their “instructional value,” even though the vaginal procedure often led to serious complications.[Hibbard, Lester T. 1972. “Sexual Sterilization by Elective Hysterectomy.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 112 (April):1076.](CCESA 1977)
  • [According to the acting director of a municipal hospital in New York City in 1975,]”In most major teaching hospitals in New York City, it is the unwritten policy to do elective hysterectomies on poor, Black, and Puerto Rican women with minimal indications, to train residents … at least 10% of gynecological surgery in New York is done on this basis. And 99% of this is done on Blacks and Puerto Rican women.” [Association for Voluntary Sterilization, Inc. 1975. “Estimate of Number of Voluntary Sterilizations Performed.” (mimeo): New York, and AVS NEWS. 1976 (Sept.), New York.] (CCESA 1977)


Chicago Committee to End Sterilization Abuse (CCESA). 1977. “Sterilization Abuse: A Task for the Women’s Movement”(January-1977). Available online: <> Accessed: November 20, 2007.

Rivera, Amaya. 2007. “Medical Apartheid” a review of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present By Harriet A. Washington. Doubleday. Published: January 5, 2007. <>
[accessed on 11/12/2007]


~ by Serena on November 16, 2007.

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