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View Diary: Forced Sterilizations of Indigenous Women (Update x2) (40 comments)

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  •  Ok, rational question. If I understand your (1+ / 0-)
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    position: some doctors of good intentions and good conscious awareness sterilized Indigenous women, women of a specific race, because?

    She nourishes us; that which we put into the ground she returns to us. Big Thunder

    by Winter Rabbit on Wed Mar 03, 2010 at 04:24:03 AM PST

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    •  Thanks for the thoughtful reply (0+ / 0-)

      I think they did it a) because they were doing it to way too many women of all races, unnecessary hysterectomies and the like being a widely-accepted part of standard medicine at that time  b) strange and twisted logic creeps into a poverty model as well as a race-based model  and c) maybe their conscious awareness wasn't so great, but I don't think good awareness always coexists with good intentions.

      Assuming a consent procedure is adequate and normal, is something that happens millions of times a day in hospitals and medical research, and it is always, to this day, fraught with pitfalls.  Did the patient understand the medical concepts, were they presented at an appropriate vocabulary and educational level? That's not so easy to do even when you're trying, trust me.  How about in an appropriate language(ha!)? Even if you make a point of getting a translator, how good is the translation? What about cultural concepts, cultural communications, values -- is the staff person conducting the consent qualified to, or interested in, mediating those gaps?  Then there's the coercion/dependency issue, will I get cut off or get in trouble if I don't oblige these doctors?  It's common for those fears to exert undue influence even when such consequences are not in fact likely, or are explicitly disavowed.

      So those are some of the reasons why I think  a doctor MIGHT end up sterilizing inadequately-consented patients for whom he intended to have every respect and care.  

      I'm not saying there weren't plenty of assholes too -- folks who figured, a few less babies to adults from the wrong side of the tracks, was a 'good' worth violating their patients for.  

      But I do think that many of the participants in the broken system, were devoid of malice.  Maybe they weren't devoid enough of obliviousness, and yes that is a sin in itself -- but how big a sin?  How far do we go?  When we hold Nuremburg trials, maybe it's not a defense that you were "just following orders" ... but at the same time, we didn't try to bring every surviving adult German male to trial.  Was that merely because of the logistical barrier of pursuing so many?  Or was there a moral reason?

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Wed Mar 03, 2010 at 06:52:34 AM PST

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