Sterilization and Social Justice: Past and Present

Poster with speaker photos and title" Sterilization and Social Justice: Past and Present, Thursday, March 30, 12-5pm, 1014 Tisch Hall"
Event Date: 
March 30, 2017
Event Time: 
12:00pm to 7:00pm
1014 Tisch Hall
Event Accessibility : 
Power doors are located at the South entrance, near the Art Museum.
Poster with speaker photos and title" Sterilization and Social Justice: Past and Present, Thursday, March 30, 12-5pm, 1014 Tisch Hall"

This one-day mini-conference will convene a group of interdisciplinary scholars who study historical and contemporary patterns of sterilization and are concerned about social and reproductive justice. The goal of the event is to discuss and compare practices and contexts for medical sterilization in the United States, from the 20th century to the present, exploring patterns in sterilization according to gender, race/ethnicity, disability class, age, sexuality, and medicalization. This mini-conference will review continuities and disjunctures between state eugenic sterilization programs implemented in the first half of the 20th century, population control programs implemented in mid-1900’s, and the contemporary landscape for reproductive justice in which birth control access is increasingly challenged. We will discuss the ways that understanding dynamics of race, ethnicity, disability, class and power in past sterilization abuses can productively inform discussion of reproductive rights in the present context.

For more detailed information and background materials please visit the conference website.


Welcome lunch (12-1pm)
Welcome: Alexandra Minna Stern (American Culture, History, Women's Studies, and Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan)

Panel I. Patterns, Politics, Regret (1pm-2:30pm)

  • Panel Moderator: Siobán Harlow (Epidemiology, University of Michigan)
  • Liza Fuentes (Guttmacher Institute), Reproductive Technology and Justice: Examining Principles, Promises, and Practices for New Contraceptives
  • Ginny Garcia (Sociology, Portland State University), Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Desire for Reversal of Sterilization among U.S. Women
  • Nicole Novak (Population Studies Center, University of Michigan), "Consent" to Sterilization in California's State Eugenics Program, 1936-1952

Panel II. Welfare, Disability, Policy (2:45pm-4:15pm)

  • Panel Moderator: Sharon Kardia (Epidemiology, University of Michigan)
  • Natalie Lira (Latina/o Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “Of Low Grade Mexican Parentage”: Race and Disability in the Justification of Confinement and Sterilization
  • Sonya Borrero (School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh), Investigating Racial and Socioeconomic Differences in the Use of Tubal Sterilization
  • Molly Ladd Taylor (History, York University), Eugenic Sterilization as a Welfare Policy: The Case of Minnesota

Wrap-Up and Next Steps (4:30pm-5:00pm)

  • Moderator: Kate O'Connor (American Culture)
  • Closing Comments: Nicole Novak and Alexandra Minna Stern

Film Screening: The State of Eugenics (5:30pm-7:00pm), a documentary about the pursuit of justice for survivors of North Carolina's eugenic sterilization program, followed by conversation with filmmaker Dawn Sinclair Shapiro

Reproductive Justice Faculty Program at IRWG, Institute for Research on Women and Gender, School of Public Health, Population Studies Center, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, Latina/o Studies Program, Science, Technology and Society Program, Department of History, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fellowship in Family Planning, and Women's Studies Department.