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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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India’s Supreme Court orders mass sterilization camps shut down within three years

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

NEW DELHI, India, September 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — India's Supreme Court has ruled that the country's sterilization camps, which are responsible for the deaths of at least 1,400 women, must be shut down.

But the nation's highest court has given them three years to close.

In a 51-page ruling, Justice Madan B. Lokur noted the appalling conditions of the camps and concluded that poor Indian women were exploited and objectified into "mere statistics" by population control advocates. 

Lokur wrote that the camps violated the rights of "the most vulnerable groups of society whose economic and social conditions make them easy targets for coercion."

"India’s Supreme Court decision was long overdue," Bradley Mattes, president and CEO of Life Issues Institute, told LifeSiteNews. "Mass sterilizations of the nation’s poor have killed hundreds of women, and physicians have used assembly line practices without wearing gloves and using rusty equipment."

"It sounds tragically similar to America’s abortion industry," Mattes said. "Both are motivated by a eugenics philosophy, and both must be stopped."

The justices supported “reproductive freedom,” however, calling for “improved access, education and empowerment” for Indian women seeking permanent contraception, and for informed consent, telling the women the consequences of sterilization.

"Since the 1970s, India has suffered some of the worst cases of human rights abuses caused by the international population control movement," Dr. Joseph Meaney, Human Life International's Director of International Outreach, explained to LifeSiteNews. "It is a mass phenomenon in a country where their own national health surveys show over one in three women between 15 and 45 years old have undergone sterilization."

"By age 35, half the female population in India has suffered surgical sterilization," Dr. Meaney noted.

"Almost unimaginable abuses have occurred, such as women having bicycle pumps used to inflate their abdomens while operated on, with the only illumination coming from flashlights," Meaney described. "Men and women have been maimed and even died as a direct result of these operations."

"Poor and uneducated people from ethnic and religious minorities were specifically targeted for mass sterilization by Indian government programs," Meaney continued.  "USAID has been accused of collusion with these human rights abuses, as the U.S. government agency has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 20 years helping to fund India's drastic population reduction programs."

Women's rights activist Devika Biswas exposed one sterilization marathon in January 2012 in which a doctor who operated on 53 women in just two hours wore no gloves and went from one patient to the next without running water to wash his hands. 

The surgeries that Biswas exposed were done under flashlight on top of school desks and the patients were not given any pre-surgery testing or counseling as to the potential dangers of the operation or of sterilization.

"It is time that women and men are treated with respect and dignity, and not as mere statistics in the sterilization program," the court said, noting that 363 women died between 2010 and 2013 because of dirty medical equipment, expired medication, and no oversight.

Medical personnel are compensated on a commission basis per sterilization. Poor women are given $10 to undergo a tubectomy and poor Indian men are given $17 to undergo a vasectomy.

The justices also spoke against "target" goals for the numbers of Indian women to be sterilized and directed each state government in India to "ensure that ... targets are not fixed so that health workers and others do not compel persons to undergo what would amount to a forced or non-consensual sterilization merely to achieve the target."

In 2014, Dr. R.K. Gupta was found to be operating with rusty equipment on 83 women, which he used from woman to woman without cleaning. He performed the major surgery on all 83 women in less than five hours. He blamed the government for harming his patients with "toxic" medication.

The Indian Population Control program has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,400 people from 2003 to 2014.

One investigation found bird droppings on stained hospital beds. "They herded them like cattle,” one witness said.

According to a study by the Population Foundation of India, 85 percent of the country's family planning budget for 2013-2014 was spent on promoting and conducting sterilizations on women.

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