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What We Tell Our Daughters and Ourselves About Hysterectomy

Qualitative Inquiry , Volume 15 (8): 1303 – Aug 1, 2009


Sage Publications
Copyright © 2009 by SAGE Publications
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What We Tell Our Daughters and Ourselves About Hysterectomy


On December 18, 2006, I became one of hundreds of thousands of women who undergo hysterectomies annually in the United States—the highest number of any industrialized nation—second only to C-sections as the most commonly performed surgery. Studies have found that at least 90% of these costly procedures are deemed unnecessary, performed for other than lifesaving purposes, i.e. sterilization. As a form of gender violence, all women have been victimized by hysterectomy. Not surprisingly however, African-American women have historically, disproportionately been targets of sterilization by hysterectomy, oftentimes state sponsored and funded, despite still unknown longterm physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual consequences beyond the permanent elimination of the means for propagating the species, leading some to charge racial genocide. This autoethnographic text, produced during my recovery, represents an attempt to rupture silences that hide the historic and contemporary abuse of Black women’s reproductive autonomy. Simultaneously, this intervention seeks restore to Black women the sanctity of their bodies.
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