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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dirty Little Secrets

Forced Sterilization or Self Imposed?

Compulsory Sterilization in a Civilized World

Postpartum Depression Postpartum Psychosis Tachia Natachia Barlow Ramsey Suicide
I was 19 and my daughter (Shey)
was about 6 months old
I am not sure of the exact moment in time when I realized I would have to get sterilized in order for the powers that be to start supporting my release. I just remember being in the court room listening to basically the same testimony as I heard before with the "only real risk factors" being if I were to get pregnant again. It was the same verbage used at a previous hearing and I realized as long as I could have children I was going to be stuck there and the sooner I wanted to get out the quicker I had better make it so I couldn't have any more kids.
So, I asked the hospital to schedule an appointment for a tubal ligation and within a couple months it was done. The very next time I went to court, it was brought up that I had 'voluntarily' undergone a tubal and therefore I could not have any more children. You see, they could not come right out and say compulsory sterilization because the law had changed. They couldn't even suggest I be "fixed" like an animal. It just had to be hinted at enough and hoped I got it. If I didn't? I would stay there until my ovaries were like prunes. Or like another woman I knew; had to end up having a hysterectomy. Curiously enough, she was released within approximately a year or so after that, when she had been there for over a decade.

I'm not saying I would have had more children. I just wanted to be able to come to that decision in my own time. I wasn't looking to have any more kids after what had happened. I wasn't even having sex. But to feel like the government is still requiring forced sterilization in order to be released in an era when we are beginning to know so much more about mental health and Postpartum (Psychosis) and other Mood Disorders seems primitive.

I remember being very clear that I was aware from the testimony given what I would have to do. The Doctors and Administration wanted me to be clear

that they were in no way suggesting that I have a tubal. How could they? It was illegal. Yet, I was released within a year after I had it done.

Part of the reason I made the decision and decided to not let that be a fight I fought was because of my daughter. She would have been ten years old at the time and I knew she needed me to get out sooner rather than later. Since as a forensic patient you are only allowed to petition the court once every six months asking for changes, and that date corresponds to the date the court order is signed by the judge. (i.e. If I petition the court and ask for more time with family on January 8th and the court date is set for March 20th, but the judge doesn't sign the order until May 30th. I have to wait 6 months from the time the order is signed to petition again. Which would be November 30th.) So basically you're looking at about once a year.

Am I resentful? Yeah a little. Partly because AMHI/Riverview Psychiatric Hospital pretend as though this doesn't or didn't happen. There also doesn't seem to be a movement to get men to have vasectomies before getting released. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting that in any way. It just seems very one sided and from a line of thinking dating back to Nazi Sterilization Program and the persecution of the mentally and physically disabled. Although oddly the United States led the world in forced sterilizations between 1907 and 1939, more than 30,000 people in twenty-nine states were sterilized.
So this still happens. They just try to be a lot more tactful about it. Although you'd be hard pressed to get anyone working for a state run hospital to admit it.

I would have come to this decision on my own. I did anyway. Not wanting more children for fear of what could happen. But I wasn't ready for a tubal ligation at 28. I even stayed on birth control for years after that to control my periods and as a precautionary measure. I just wanted to be able to come to terms with it in my mind. In my time. Letting it be my choice. I think we all want that.

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