Black Woman Believes She was Sterilized Against Her Will

by Ayvaunn Penn, Your Black World

Janice Black, 59 years old, believes that her stepmother had her sterilized because she had learning disabilities. Black’s stepmother treated her poorly after the death of her father. Black says that her stepmother pulled her out of her Charlotte, North Carolina, school in the 1970’s where she was enrolled in special needs classes in order to have her stay at home and care for her stepsister’s five kids. Black recalls her stepmother telling her that education meant nothing for her. Black also remembers the day her stepmother took her to the doctor at the age of 14 or 15 to be sterilized.

Now, Black lives with a friend she’s known since childhood, Sadie Long, who is now her legal guardian. Long says she saw a long scar on Black’s stomach and asked her what happened. Black replied to her saying, “Didn’t I tell you? That old biddy had me fixed.” Not long after this, Long saw a program on television discussing the Eugenics Task Force. The latter is a new organization handling cases from victims of a sterilization program only ended by North Carolina in 1977. One of the goals of the sterilization program was to prevent the mentally disabled from having children. Long then realized that this was likely related to what her friend had suffered.

According to reports from WCNC News, “Long has inquired with the task force on Black’s behalf, and will fill out paperwork to determine if her friend was sterilized through the program.”

Ayvaunn Penn is a spoken word artist and an award winning writer completing her degree in English and philosophy. For more of her witty-word works click here. To have your original poetry featured by Ms. Penn on Your Black Poets, click here.


6 responses to “Black Woman Believes She was Sterilized Against Her Will

  1. I was 17 years old in 1972, and living in Duquesne PA. The nearest hospital was McKeesport. I could not make it to the woman’s hospital because I was only in labor with the 3rd child, for an hour or so. After I had my son I asked for birth control (pills or something like that). Being poor, uneducated, and a single black mother of 3 by 17, I only remember the crowd of I think about 5-6 whites (all in white jackets) that stood around my maternity bed asking me questions and talking about me. Before I left that hospital, I had no idea that my fallopian tubes would be burnt off permanently. No one notified my mother, father or grandmother, and no one signed for me to have such a permanent sterilization either. It was not until I was way into my late twenties or so that I managed to get my hands on the medical records because I met the man of my dreams and wanted to have his child, that I found out what they did to me and the legalities of such criminal actions. It not only stated that they burnt off my tubes, but also they upped my age to 19 years and claimed I consented to such drastic measures. I did no such thing. So, I feel as the lady in this article that I was also involuntarily permanently sterilized because I was poor, on welfare, and had 3 kids. I was a victim of the USA sterilization program I just found out about this year after reading this article. If there is anyone I can get with to sue them, or join a class action against McKeesport Hospital, I am willing and game.

      • I feel for individuals that have been mistreated, but on the other hand I don’t feel very sad about this case. She was 17 and delivering her 3rd child, she was poor and on welfare, where does responsibility come up in this conversation? Who is going to take care of her and her children? What type of education is she thriving for, and furthermore, what about the education and the betterment of her children. There has to be a point when we stop feeling sorry and make a stand for what is and isn’t acceptable. 17 uneducated, poor, on welfare and pumping babies out like that is all your here to do isn’t acceptable to me. I’m a African American who thinks that we need to stop saying that everything is okay and start saying enough is enough.

  2. Pingback: Forced Sterilization: Black Woman’s Fallopian Tubes Burned Off by Doctor « The Penn Speaks·

  3. They did her a favor. 17 and had 3 children, poor. Why she have 3 children but could not support her self financially. The welfare messed up because they should have provided support for only one child. If a other children were born the amount hould have remained the same. I’m tired of working hard everyday and my money going to others who have never worked, some never tried to get a job, knew they couldn’t support themselves but kept laying up and making babies. If you don’t have money stop making babies, they are your responsibility should not be mine. I raised 3 children alone worked three jobs to support them, never asked anyone for help. So what your tubes were burned, and who’s tasking care of your children now? Are YOU?

  4. God has the final call, whoever treated those ladies like animal I pray that you repent . May the Lord has mercy on your soul .

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