Stop Quinacrine!

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stop sterilization abuse

What is Quinacrine?
Quinacrine hydrochloride is a drug that was developed in the late 1920s to prevent and treat malaria. In recent years it has achieved notoriety as a female sterilization agent. As a worldwide sterilization crusade, launched by American MD Elton Kessel and public health doctor Stephen Mumford, approximately 104,410 women in nineteen countries have already been subjected to quinacrine sterilizations, many of them have not consented and were not even informed that they were being sterilized.

Quinacrine causes permanent sterilization by creating scar tissue in the fallopian tubes. It comes in the form of a pellet and can be injected during a pelvic exam without a woman’s knowledge. Although the long-term side effects are not yet known, quinacrine sterilizations are associated with a number of serious short-term side effects, including burning and irritation of the vaginal walls, uterine adhesions, ectopic pregnancies, and toxic psychosis. The risks associated with fetal exposure to quinacrine are also unknown.

Women’s Bodies As Testing Sites
The process, history, and political motives of the quinacrine sterilization campaign suggest that it is an example of human experimentation where poor women, particularly women of color, have been used as guinea pigs in the name of advancing reproductive technology. Despite the fact that concerns of quinacrine’s side effects have motivated family planning organizations and governments to oppose its use, Mumford and Kessel have manufactured quinacrine, arranged for its distribution, and mobilized a network of doctors, nurses, and midwives to administer it. Together these two U.S. doctors have distributed quinacrine in nineteen countries including Bangladesh, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Venezuela, Vietnam, the United States, Malaysia, and Romania.

In addition to putting women’s bodies at risk, the quinacrine campaign poses a clear threat to the autonomy of women in developing countries. Many of the women who were sterilized did not know what was happening to them. For example, in 1989, after Vietnam’s family planning program performed more than thirty thousand quinacrine sterilizations, it was reported that women working at the Hoa Binh Rubber Plantation were involuntarily sterilized.

Population Control in the Form of Sterilization Abuse
Embedded in Mumford and Kessel’s quinacrine campaign is the desire to limit immigration to the U.S. and population growth in the Third World, a desire which represents a political rather than a medical objective. The Wall Street Journal reported these views of Mumford:

“Describing quinacrine as ‘essential to population-growth control,’ he says he sees it as a means of reducing the potential number of immigrants s to the U.S. from developing nations. ‘This explosion in human numbers, which after 2050 will come entirely from immigrants and the offspring of immigrants, will dominate our lives. There will be chaos and anarchy,’ says Mr. Mumford, who relies in part on anti-immigrant forces in the U.S. for financial backing.”

In Mumford and Kessel’s quinacrine campaign, women are being treated as a means to achieve lower Third World population rates, not because it is in the best interest of the women to have fewer children, but because it will allegedly benefit the world and “American culture.” This type of philosophy subjugates women’s interests to a political agenda which is steeped in xenophobia, racism, and classism.