Film screening sparks conversation

By: Sarah Van Wie, Staff Writer 

The documentary “No Más Bebés,” which translates to “No More Babies,” tells the stories of immigrant women who were sterilized without their consent during the 1960s and 70s.

The Center for Student Diversity hosted a screening of the film and moderated a panel discussion on issues connected to it Wednesday in the West Village Ballrooms.

“We like to have conversations on campus about everyone’s differences, and have students become more aware of what affects others,” Associate Director of Student Diversity and Development Mahnoor Ahmed said. “We wanted to connect this conversation to the population.”

“No Más Bebés” focuses on poor Latina and Spanish-speaking immigrant women who went into labor at  Los Angeles County USC Medical Center and needed emergency cesarean section procedures in order to save their babies. In the middle the hospital’s chaotic environment, the doctors tricked these women into signing an agreement to be sterilized.

Many of these victims were in their early 20s. Some did not even find out they were sterilized until years later.They would hold up big syringe needles and said it would relieve the mother’s labor pains — if she would just sign the agreement.

The contract the mothers signed was written in English, and the women were unable to read English or did not have time to ask for a translator.

In 1978, ten women sued the doctors, the state and the U.S. government for unwanted sterilization, citing coercion and their right to reproduce. The judge sided with the defendants over the women.

“I thought it was very eye-opening,” sophomore Nicole Francese said. “I had no idea this happened. I hadn’t learned it in school. It is obviously a big issue, so it is just surprising to me.”

When the mothers expressed skepticism about the agreement, doctors told them that their baby was going to die if they didn’t hurry. In some cases, the doctors grabbed their hand and forced them to sign the agreement.

“Being Hispanic and knowing that my mother or grandmother could have possibly went through something similar because they need a translator is tough to believe,” senior Chris Espinal said. “These women didn’t have a choice or had any idea of what was going on. It’s unbelievable.”

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