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Re: Theos-World Sterilization of Indians in the U.S. 1972-76

Mar 17, 2006 04:17 AM
by Bart Lidofsky

Once again, irrelevant in terms of general falsifying of scientific results, and once again very small compared to the evils of the Soviet Union.


krsanna wrote:
Chuck -- I'll provide you with some accepted American "science" used to justify atrocities and accepted at all levels in its day. In the meantime, an introduction to 20th century policies.
Best regards,

A Look at the Indian Health Service Policy of Sterilization, 1972-1976

by Charles R. England

The purpose of this article is to examine the reasons for and results of the investigations prompted by physicians, tribal leaders, and senators concerning allegations that the Indian Health Service (IHS) was indiscriminately sterilizing Indian women across the nation. This topic brings up several questions of morality, ethics, and the law. These questions cannot help but be colored by the culture and values that we are taught. So it is from this perspective that we look at the sterilization policies and philosophies that were at work within the IHS-PHS, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) from 1972 to 1976. It was during this period that the greatest number of Indian women were put under the knife for a plethora of medical, social, and monetary reasons.

This article consists of six categories which will: explore the federal relationship with American Indian tribes; describe personal accounts from women who were sterilized and their attitudes toward family planning; explicate state and federal policies regarding informed consent and sterilization; examine the contractual relationship between IHS and private practices; consider the U.S. General Accounting Office investigation of IHS sterilization procedures; and examine the meaning behind the statistics of population growth. Finally, it will analyze the historical relevance of this topic to the model of internal colonialism under which the U.S. government operates.

The federal trust relationship with American Indian tribes is based on numerous treaty rights and agreements that include medical services and physicians made available to Indians. However, there are very few statements that mention medical services specifically; instead, there is an implicit understanding of the trust responsibility that includes the health of American Indians. As stated in the American Indian Policy Review Commission's report on Indian health: ...the federal responsibility to provide health services to Indians has its roots in the unique moral, historical, and treaty obligations of the federal government, no court has ever ruled on the precise nature of that legal basis nor defined the specific legal rights for Indians created by those obligations (in American Indian Journal, 1977: 22-23). The implied meaning of health care responsibilities is somewhat vague, but the treaties and agreements were always meant to favor Indians.

In 1955, IHS was transferred from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Public Health Service (PHS). This move was made with the expectation that the PHS could improve health care for Indians living on reservations. Even after the transfer had taken place, the health needs of Indians were still not adequately met. This was due to the ambiguous nature of the federal government's responsibility to provide health care. In turn, the IHS had no concrete goals or objectives and operated day to day with only a faint clue as to how it should render services.

To date, an Indian client will be given services that may well vary each time that patient walks into an IHS facility: ...the specific services available to him will vary from day-to-day and year-to-
year, depending on unpublished discretionary decisions made by Indian Health Service officials and commitments and conditions contained in often voluminous appropriation hearings (American Indian Journal, 1977: 23). This quote suggests that the IHS system is ripe for mismanagement of policies, funding, and staff supervision. It will also come as no surprise to find that IHS has been the subject of a number of investigations.

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