No Más Bebés is a powerful and compelling documentary that explores the history of Mexican-American women who were sterilized at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and 1970s.
The film, directed/produced by Renee Tajima-Peña and produced Virginia Espino, is told through multiple perspectives of key players at the center of the story. Six of the sterilized mothers agreed to be filmed, and more than four decades later, their memories and emotions are still painfully raw. Many of the women had no idea they were sterilized until lawyers and activists helping with the case came knocking on their doors.
“This is a film about of the landmark civil rights lawsuit, Madrigal v. Quilligan, an untold chapter in the history of reproductive rights. But it is also a film about the meaning of that absence in the lives of the mothers who were sterilized at the hospital,” says Renee Tajima-Peña.
The film’s synopsis explains:
They came to have their babies. They went home sterilized. Led by an intrepid, 26-year-old Chicana lawyer and armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing young doctor, the mothers faced public exposure and stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice.
The landmark civil rights lawsuit filed by the mothers in 1975, anticipated the reemergence of the reproductive justice movement today. Chicana activists sought to redefine reproductive politics – not only as the right to abortion, but also the human right to bear a child. Their demand that the needs of poor women and women of color be heard resonates powerfully, as women’s reproductive choice is under attack and the reproductive justice movement struggles to ensure that all women have a voice in the debate.
The film premiered on PBS Independent Lens February 1, and is available to watch online until 2/22/16.