Federally funded sterilization: time to rethink policy?

Am J Public Health. 2012 Oct;102(10):1822-5. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300850. Epub 2012 Aug 16.


In the 1970s, concern about coercive sterilization of low-income and minority women in the United States led the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to create strict regulations for federally funded sterilization procedures. Although these policies were instituted to secure informed consent and protect women from involuntary sterilization, there are significant data indicating that these policies may not, in fact, ensure that consent is truly informed and, further, may prevent many low-income women from getting a desired sterilization procedure. Given the alarmingly high rates of unintended pregnancy in the United States, especially among low-income populations, we feel that restrictive federal sterilization policies should be reexamined and modified to simultaneously ensure informed decision-making and honor women's reproductive choices.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Federal Government*
  • Female
  • Financing, Government / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Policy*
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Sterilization, Reproductive / economics*
  • Sterilization, Reproductive / history
  • United States