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Reproduction on the ReservationPregnancy, Childbirth, and Colonialism in the Long Twentieth Century$
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Brianna Theobald

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653167

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653167.001.0001

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Self-Determination Begins in the Womb

Self-Determination Begins in the Womb

(p.147) Chapter Six Self-Determination Begins in the Womb
Reproduction on the Reservation

Brianna Theobald

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores Native women’s quest for reproductive self-determination from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. The chapter documents Native women’s diverse attitudes toward and engagement with federal family planning services, while dedicating particular attention to growing concerns regarding unethical and even coercive sterilizations in the 1970s. Native nurses, community health representatives, and other activists struggled in various ways for women’s reproductive autonomy, collectively ensuring the centrality of reproduction to Red Power politics and the ongoing struggle for Native sovereignty. By the end of the decade, activist pressure resulted in the adoption of new federal regulations that provided some protections for Native and other women. Native women also founded grassroots organizations that pursued reproduction-related agendas such as a return to Native midwifery.

Keywords:   Family planning, Sterilization, Red Power, Sovereignty, Self-Determination, Midwifery

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