The Clash of Population and Prejudice in Madrigal v. Quilligan

Mural (detail) in Boyle Heights, East L.A. Photo: Mictlan Murals

In August 1973, Guadalupe Acosta was admitted to the county hospital in East Los Angeles. She had been suffering from labor pain for hours, but she would soon endure even more misery in the delivery room. She recounted later how the attending physician worked aggressively to induce labor, pushing down forcefully on her abdomen — even hitting her stomach when he was caught in the swing of her flailing arms. In the end, all the torment she endured culminated in the death of her baby in birth.

Acosta later said she was “very inattentive” in the aftermath of the experience. “People sometimes have to tell me things twice. It’s not that I don’t understand them, it’s that I’m not there.” For Acosta, it was not just the loss of her baby that devastated her but also the loss of her ability to have children in the future. She found out, months later, that the hospital physician had decided to sterilize her. At the time, she had been too traumatized to understand what was happening.


Just as the right to access birth control and abortion should be defended, so should the right to have children.


The University of Southern California – Los Angeles County Medical Center (USC-LAC Medical Center), as it was officially called in the 1970s, was a hospital that many in East L.A. tried to avoid. It was a place they would only visit out of necessity if other hospitals weren’t affordable. For Dr. Bernard Rosenfeld, who worked there as a resident in obstetrics and gynecology, it was not hard to see how his own department reinforced that reputation.

Acosta’s traumatic experience was similar to other cases Rosenfeld witnessed — cases that showed a disturbing pattern of subjecting women, especially Spanish-speaking women, to sterilization without their informed consent. According to Rosenfeld, insistent medical staff would push sterilization on patients “before they go home” — often while they were still in pain or exhausted — so that they wouldn’t “change their mind by the time they come back to clinic.” Patients who had limited understanding of English were often uncertain of what was happening. Shocked by the unethical practices, Rosenfeld secretly copied hundreds of medical records to document what was happening at USC-LAC Medical Center. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Mohur Sidhwa for State Representative, LD 9

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are launching a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

This installment of the “Meet Our Candidates” series spotlights Mohur Sidhwa, a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 9. A Tucson resident for 31 years, Sidhwa first came to Arizona to pursue a graduate degree in anthropology from the University of Arizona. Since then, she has worked for numerous campaigns, both to elect candidates and to defeat propositions she considered “destructive.” The latter includes the campaigns against Proposition 107 in 2006 and Proposition 102 in 2008, which were introduced to curtail the rights of same-sex couples. Sidhwa has served as a chair for her legislative district and was recognized in 2007 as an outstanding district chair.


“Those untrained in the sciences or…without a knowledge of the medical field should not be making medical decisions, much less passing laws on these issues.”


As a candidate for state representative, Sidhwa believes freedom of personal choices, such as family planning and women’s health care, is imperative for Arizona. What follows is an exclusive interview with Sidhwa, who shared her views about reproductive health care access and freedoms with us on July 3, 2012.

What women’s health care issues do you think should be addressed in the legislature?

The legislature should reverse the damage on women’s health concerns in the previous sessions. Then they need to stay out of women’s personal lives and medical options and their reproductive strategies. These are a matter of health, and literally their lives are at stake. Continue reading