While the stereotype of the persistently pregnant Mexican-origin woman is longstanding, in the past fifteen years her reproduction has been targeted as a major social problem for the United States. Due to fear-fueled news reports and public perceptions about the changing composition of the nation’s racial and ethnic makeup—the so-called Latinization of America—the reproduction of Mexican immigrant women has become a central theme in contemporary U. S. politics since the early 1990s.
In this exploration, Elena R. Gutiérrez considers these public stereotypes of Mexican American and Mexican immigrant women as “hyper-fertile baby machines” who “breed like rabbits.” She draws on social constructionist perspectives to examine the historical and sociopolitical evolution of these racial ideologies, and the related beliefs that Mexican-origin families are unduly large and that Mexican American and Mexican immigrant women do not use birth control.
Using the coercive sterilization of Mexican-origin women in Los Angeles as a case study, Gutiérrez opens a dialogue on the racial politics of reproduction, and how they have developed for women of Mexican origin in the United States. She illustrates how the ways we talk and think about reproduction are part of a system of racial domination that shapes social policy and affects individual women’s lives.
A Note on Terminology
Chapter One. The Fertility of Women of Mexican Origin: A Social Constructionist Approach
Chapter Two. The Twin Problems of Overpopulation and Immigration in 1970s California
Chapter Three. "They Breed Like Rabbits": The Forced Sterilization of Mexican-Origin Women
Chapter Four. "More Than a Hint of Extraordinary Fertility": Social Science Perspectives on Mexican-Origin Women's Reproductive Behavior (1912-1980)
Chapter Five. Controlling Borders and Babies: John Tanton, ZPG, and Racial Anxiety over Mexican-Origin Women's Fertility
Chapter Six. The Right to Have Children: Chicana Organizing Against Sterilization Abuse
Chapter Seven. "Baby-Makers and Welfare Takers": The (Not-So) New Politics of Mexican-Origin Women's Reproduction