Affirming the Autonomy of Indigenous Women

November is National American Indian Heritage Month. As we celebrate the positive sides of Indigenous Nations’ histories, we must acknowledge that the U.S. government has both robbed Native Americans of their land and, through the policies of the Indian Health Service division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, made it difficult for Indigenous people to access quality health care.

Indian Health Service (IHS) was established in 1955 with the stated goal of improving the health care of Native Americans living on reservations. However, Indigenous women who came into IHS clinics for something as common as vaccinations were often sterilized without their consent. During the 1960s and 1970s, 25 to 50 percent of women who visited IHS clinics (approximately 3,406 women) were sterilized without their knowledge. Methods of sterilization included partial or full hysterectomies, and tubal ligations.


Bodily autonomy is about having the power to decide for oneself whether and when to bear children.


The IHS had a clear objective: population control (aka “genocide”). Census data collected during the 1970s showed that Native Americans had birthrates that were much higher than white communities. According to census data, the average American Indian woman had 3.79 children, while white women had 1.79 children. The 1980 census revealed that the average birthrate for white women was 2.14, while the birthrate for Indigenous women was 1.99. You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that this is a drastic contrast.

Myla Vicenti Carpio, a professor of American Indian studies at Arizona State University, explains: Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

More woman-shaming from the abstinence-only crowd.

More woman-shaming from the abstinence-only crowd.

  • Abstinence-only education: Showing kids every day how filthy and disgusting they automatically become if they have sex. Which symbol of filth are you, fellow non-abstinent people? A used piece of tape? Chewed-up gum? It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” of how gross they can make you feel for doing something human beings are mostly naturally inclined to do. Anyway, I’m a black woman so I think the most fitting choice for me would be “dirty chocolate.” (Think Progress)
  • Here are all the states committing egregious sex education blunders. It’s pretty much sad all over, folks. (Huff Po)
  • Maybe that’s why 80 percent of teens have sex without first being educated about it. (Daily Beast)
  • Pro-choice Arizonans, we have successfully gained an extended injunction against the new and terrible legislation that would cut off women’s access to medication abortion in the early stages of pregnancy and instead force them to undergo a surgical abortion — assuming they can access it. (Phoenix New Times)
  • The teen birth rate may be at record lows, but the CDC says (and we agree) it’s still too high in the grand scheme of things! (NBC News)
  • You know how the Arizona Department of Health Services focuses so much on stuff like disease prevention and control, vaccinations, environmental health, maintaining vital records, and all of that unimportant junk? Well, the sinister, diabolical forces at the Center for Arizona Policy want them to take time away from all that crap to start doing surprise inspections at abortion clinics. Did something seriously dangerous or illegal happen at an Arizona abortion clinic to spur this on? Nope! (East Valley Tribune)
  • There are 30 states that require pregnant women to remain on life support no matter what. THIRTY STATES! Living will or not. Do we need any more proof that women are largely seen as incubators and not people? Repeating this again: THIRTY STATES!!! (RH Reality Check)
  • Sometimes when I hear Republicans speaking, I feel as if I’m drowning in a tsunami of stupidity. Missouri state Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger says that buying a car and selecting carpet are decisions just as major as considering abortion. These are things he personally has to think about a lot before just plunging right in, you know?! That is actually the logic this clown is using to try to mandate a 72-hour waiting period for women considering an abortion. It’s as if he and the rest of the forced birth advocates don’t understand that most women have already thought about what they’d do in the event of an unintended pregnancy. It’s something almost all sexually active, heterosexual women have contemplated. These “waiting periods” have been shown to have virtually no effect on a woman’s final decision whether or not to have an abortion. Please, Rep. Gatschenberger, get out of the legislature and go pick out some flooring. (Salon)