A recent article in the Sacramento Bee discussed the forced sterilization of female inmates in a California prison after the Center for Investigative Reporting found that at least 148 women received tubal litigations which violated prison rules.
Females thought likely to return to prison were the targets of coercion, according to former inmates. Also, when discussing the payment he received for performing the tubal ligation, the institution’s OB-GYN, Dr. James Heinrich stated that: “Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”
I have heard plenty of comments accusing women of breeding wildly and irresponsibly. Statements such as the one by Heinrich confirms such believes and in many cases, for example when discussing abortion and reproductive choices and rights, women are accused of becoming pregnant and by extension are expected to carry the responsibility of pregnancy all on their own while the men involved, and the responsibilities they carry, are not even mentioned. It is so rarely discussed that the father of a child is just as responsible as the mother of a child. It should not have to be mentioned, but unfortunately it does. In regards to the topic under discussion, there seems to be an underlying message stating that women are deceptive out of control breeders (in fact women’s sexuality is often described as deceptive and alluring). Thereby there is need for an outside authority to step in and control the women before their breeding is negatively affecting people around them.
There is also a lack of discussion surrounding social and cultural factors that play a major part in women’s pregnancies. By doing so we are again placing sole responsibility on women while often denying accounting for factors such as affordable birth control, proper sexual education, access to abortion, or decent family planning, and again the role of fathers. The belief that some women’s reproduction needs to be controlled displays the assertion that some women should be allowed to decide for themselves while some women should not.
The idea that women bare sole responsibility for pregnancies and children (often presented by powerful and authoritative sources) became painfully clear to me as I read the 2010 book Is There Anything Good About Men: How Cultures Flourish By Exploiting Men by Roy Baumeister (who, on the back of the book, has been described as: “…one of the most brilliant and influential psychologists of our generation…”. For example, Baumeister, on several occasions, refer to a woman and her children: “It is men who must be induced to fall prey to romantic mythology, so that they will enter into marriage, where their money can be tapped to support a woman and her children, regardless of how their relationship to that particular woman unfolds” (p. 242).
Just as Baumeister states that men fall prey and are tapped for resources so is the article showing that women’s child bearing should be controlled to avoid society from being tapped for money. It also implies that women carry sole responsibility for pregnancies and for children.