Mar 17, 2016

Outrageous truth about forced sterilizations in the U.S. in film

From "No Más Bebés"/Courtesy PBS

From People Power and PBS Independent Lens media releases

March 17, 2016

El Paso, Texas - Film producer and historian Virginia Espino will be the featured presenter on March 24 for a "No Más Bebés" film screening about forced sterilizations. La Mujer Obrera is hosting the event at 
Café Mayapan.

"No Más Bebés" is the story of Mexican immigrant mothers who sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County- USC Medical Center during the 1970’s.

Alongside Antonia Hernandez, a 26-year-old Chicana lawyer armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing young doctor, the mothers stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice.

The landmark civil rights lawsuit filed by the mothers (Madrigal v. Quilligan) redefined reproductive politics and demanded that the needs of poor women and women of color be heard.

"No Más Bebés" was directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Renne Tajima-Peña and produced by Espino.

Espino is a historian at the UCLA Center for Oral History Research, and has conducted oral histories with major figures in the Latina/o community. Her research on coercive sterilization at LACMC provided the basis for the documentary project.

When Espino wrote about the case as a historian, she kept returning to the idea of motherhood as a political practice. In the 1970’s, mainstream feminism associated motherhood with tradition and shackles of the past.

Even while making the film today, questions arose such as “Why have more children, isn’t it holding her back? Can she afford it? Can society afford these children? But as plaintiff Consuelo Hermosillo said simply, “It’s not their decision, it’s our decision.”

Espino's research was published in "as Obreras: Chicana Politics of Work and Family" and in "Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia," and was supported by a Woodrow Wilson dissertation grant, a Ford dissertation fellowship, a Smithsonian Institution Minority Fellowship, a Smithsonian Institution Inter-University Program for Latino Research Fellowship, and an Irvine fellowship.

Espino has served on the California Commission for Sex Equity, and on the Los Angeles Chicano/Latino Education Committee.

La Mujer Obrera (LMO) is a local independent organization based in El Paso, Texas, that is dedicated to creating communities defined by women. Our mission is to develop and use our creative capacity to express the dignity and diversity.

Since 1981, LMO has worked to break the cycle of poverty through education and employment of displaced women workers in El Paso’s Chamizal Neighborhood, one of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods.

Read more about the PBS special at

Film screening

What: La Mujer Obrera will host a "No Más Bebés" film screening and fundraiser. Dinner and discussion with producer and historian Virginia Espino.
When: 6 p.m., Thursday, March 24.
Where: Café Mayapan, 2000 Texas Avenue.
Information: Tickets are $12 tickets, includes dinner; available online via eventbrite- La Mujer Obrera; or call (915) 799-2890 for reservation. 

The Digie Zone recommends these links about the forced sterilizations: