Hoping to reduce the number of children born to low income mothers, John LaBruzzo, Republican State Representative of Louisiana, is considering legislation that would pay poor women $1,000 if they undergo reproductive sterilization by tying their tubes, known as fallopian tube ligation.
LaBruzzo’s reasoning is that he believes low income families contribute to generational welfare— meaning that children born to parents on welfare will most likely end up on welfare as well. As noted by LaBruzzo, “It’s a horrible problem and we were brainstorming about some of the options.”
Louisiana is a state with over four millions Latinos. Women make up 51% of the population, and 40% of low income families are headed by women. Evidently, this bill would end up impacting over two million women in the state, many of whom may not know that tubal ligation is a permanent, usually irreversible procedure. A vasectomy incentive for poor men is on his agenda as well.
What’s most offensive is that LaBruzzo would like to give tax incentives to college-educated wealthy couples, so that they will have more children. So it’s not that he wants to control population growth, it’s just that he wants to be selective about who should be reproducing.
Needless to say, this has angered many people and organizations, who compare Labruzzo’s ideas to eugenics, a form of selective breeding. Julie Mickelberry of Planned Parenthood Louisiana bought up an interesting point, emphasizing that LaBruzzo’s plan would not solve the underlying issue, which is access to health care and better paying jobs.
And she is right. Instead of paying doctors and hospitals for these surgical procedures, which will most likely cause insurance rates to go up for everyone, LaBruzzo should be focusing on prevention. As it is, many Latina’s have limited access to health insurance, and a decision made when offered money may not be the same decision a women wants ten years down the line. Sterilization will not solve other public health issues faced by the Lousiana residents. What would be more productive would be for LaBruzzo to “brainstorm” on how to provide better jobs opportunities for residents and sexual education programs.
The most upsetting thing about this “brainstorming session” is that it brings back memories from the 1970’s, a time when many Mexican women were forced to have sterilization procedures done. Many times doctors did not get consent from patients. To many, this was a form of eugenics— a way to control the population so that only those desired reproduced, which adversely affected women of color.
Contributed by Angela Donadic, Policy and Advocacy Fellow