Matters of Choice: Puerto Rican Women's Struggle for by Professor Iris Lopez

By Professor Iris Lopez

In "Matters of Choice," Iris Lopez offers a accomplished research of the dichotomous perspectives that experience portrayed sterilization both as a part of a coercive software of inhabitants keep watch over or as a way of voluntary, even releasing, fertility keep watch over through person ladies. Drawing upon her twenty-five years of analysis on sterilized Puerto Rican girls from 5 varied households in Brooklyn, Lopez untangles the interaction among how ladies make fertility judgements and their social, fiscal, cultural, and historic constraints.

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S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans in 1917 helped bring this about. During the 1940s and 1950s almost one million Puerto Ricans left the island and came to the continental United States. One of the most significant themes in the history of Puerto Rico during the twentieth century has been the constant emigration of its people, promoted by government agencies as a remedy to the alleged chronic overpopulation problem of the island (History Task Force 1986; Sanabria 2000). But emigration is only half of the story.

Thus, before I move on to the stories of individual families, I would like to consider the common experiences faced by the women of each generation. My study focuses on Puerto Rican women living in New York City, whom I will term, for heuristic purposes, the first, second, and third generations. These are the mothers, daughters, and granddaughters in the households I followed for twenty-five years. The mothers (first generation) were born 1914–1922. The daughters (second generation) were born 1934–1952.

I had five children with him. The children were almost born one right after the other [the children were born in 1945, 1946, 1948, 1949, and 1950]. During my last pregnancy I had twins. They died one week apart from cholera. I left him twice. The first time I moved in with his mother and the second time with my sister. When I moved in with his mother she gave us a small corner of a room because that’s all the space she had. We slept on the floor. When I moved in with my sister, I had to take care of my kids, and her six stepchildren.

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