Woman with Nine Children Sterilized Against Her Will

This story of a woman who was sterilized against her will is absolutely heartbreaking. It bears the typical issues with the medical field: Tessa Savicki has had 9 children, she asked to get an implant device that could be removed if she changed her mind, doctors “can’t find” any record of her operation–but then they *can* and the release form patients undergoing sterilization are required to sign is not there.

But the saddest part of it all is that this story also has all the earmarks of becoming a question of “did this woman deserve it or not” argument (rather than a what criminal charges will be brought up against the doctors who committed this heinous act) as influenced by the knowledge that the woman in question is not a ‘steller’ woman. That is: she’s no Suzy Homemaker.

From the article:

In 2001, the newspaper reports, Savicki reached an out-of-court settlement with CVS pharmacy and a spermacide company after she claimed she was sold an expired spermacide.

The Herald reports Savicki’s nine children have several fathers. She reportedly is unemployed and relies on public assistance for two of the four children who live with her.

She receives supplemental security income for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she tells the paper. Her mother has custody of three of her children, according to the Herald. Two of her children are grown.

I’m not really sure why any of these details are necessary to the story–A doctor performed a surgery on a human being that she gave no consent to perform. That is an act of violence. A direct challenge to the idea of human rights and autonomy.

Unfortunately, Savicki’s illegal surgery is not unusual. Women of color, disabled women, addicted women, sex workers, indigenous women, trans women, “illegal” women and so many others are all groups of women whose basic bodily integrity is only rarely respected.

My question: why is this doctor, and all the doctors that committed these crimes against women, not in jail? What would happen if there was a history of men getting their testicles removed in the U.S.? Would we force the men to sue (rather that imprisoning the doctors)? Would we debate whether or not the men deserved to get their testicles removed?

Would we argue that it may not have been “right” to do remove the man’s testicles, but in the end, he deserved it and it did our country a favor?

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15 comments on “Woman with Nine Children Sterilized Against Her Will
  1. La Macha,

    I agree, if the allegations are true, the doctors should be penalized to the full extent of the law.

    However, when something is made for public consumption(i.e. the article about this woman), readers want to be able to feel some deep down universal outrage. This woman’s personal behavior mitigates how “bad” people can feel for her. While it is a right to have as many children as one pleases, it is not a right to receive public assistance if one decides to exercise the children right one too many times.

    And it’s not even like she had some deeply held belief that prevented her from using birth control earlier–she sued some vs and some spermicide company–which proves she wasn’t entirely against birth control.

    Maybe it’s just Karma.

    Outrage v. Outrage.

  2. we have to do something to protect kids that wont impede on woman’s rights. some middle ground if that’s even possible…

  3. As a woman, your comment insinuating that her being sterilized was perhaps “karmic” reads as if she brought it on herself, deserved it. Dangerous/scary territory that someone else can decide what my body does or does not deserve.

  4. regardless of the fact she might have had “one too many kids” in your opinion, her body was violated against her wishes. Anything is possible, of course it is, look what happened here. Doesn’t mean it’s right.

  5. Maryjo,

    you wrote: ” I think we should make this mandatory…how many have been killed by these idiots who call themselves parents.”

    First, this woman didn’t kill anyone(did you let your imagination run wild?).

    Second, by saying it should be mandatory, you align yourself with the great government of China.

  6. you know, this whole thread amuses me in a very scary ironic way. are we not attacking at least two nations at the moment because we are the big women’s right country that must defend poor women from other countries who are being brutalized? is there a difference between forcing a woman to cover or not go to school and cutting out her reproductive organs against her will?

    and lets not dismiss this with “singular case”–sterilization of women (and men of color) has happened throughout history in the U.S. and has more often than not been official government policy–see: Nixon administration’s policy of indigenous sterilization here, in PR and in several countries throughout latin america–see also: eugenics practices whereby several states (the one I am most familiar with was virgina) made it legal to sterilize anybody that the state felt was “a burden.” See the u.s. supreme court’s advocating sterilization practicies–and the head justice’s words of “three generations of imbeciles is enough.”

    and let’s be aware of the fact that while we may all be applauding because gross disgusting woman got her tubes tied (and “gross disgusting” is a characterization that was FORCED on her by the newspaper, I’ve seen several reports contesting that representation, but I am not going to post them, at least not now, because I don’t care if she is the devil, as a human being she has the right to bodily integrity, period), but gross disgusting women are not the only ones being subjected to this barbarism. Our insistance that there are SOME women who deserve it is what makes it ok for ALL women to be subjected to it. because how easy is it to turn a “trouble maker” into “gross and disgusting”? Or–a woman who was raped and wound up pregnant because of the rape, into an “imbecile.”

  7. I agree, La Macha: No one should be sterilized against their own will. You note that the U.S. has a history of sterilizing people. That is unacceptable and deplorable. Today, the U.S., I’d like to believe, is ahead of other countries in terms of respecting womens’ bodily integrity. In fact, the U.S. made a specific exception in Asylum law to cover any woman who has been forcibly sterilized, or has a well-founded fear of sterilization in the future. We have saved many women in that respect.

    P.S. I asked some female friends of mine whether the extraneous facts about the woman’s personal circumstances were relevant to the story and they all said no.

    Although it may be tempting, from a logical perspective, to say one “deserves” sterilization, or that society would benefit from a sterilization of an individual, it is morally wrong and, furthermore, can result in far worse ramifications than whatever the original problem was(i.e. too many mums on welfare because of too many children).

  8. about 20 million LM. **rolls eyes**

    (p.s. please check out what *censored* means and who can actually do it.).

  9. btw. Your comment was repetitious and did absolutely nothing to further any type of meaningful debate. we’ve had plenty of people leaving comments about how “she deserved it” and how stupid stupid stupid all those are who have babies on welfare are. Filled our quota, in fact.

    Furthermore, debasing people and screaming needlessly about how ignorant others are and how smart you are–all in your very first comment, does very little to earn you the right to comment here. If that particular subject pisses you off so much that you can only spew hate, find something less emotion educing to comment on first.

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