Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


There have been many breakthroughs in birth control technologies, many of which have been beneficial for women. However, many feminists who advocate reproductive freedom also warn that freedom for some might lead to further oppression for others. The case in point is the practice of tubal ligation in the United States. Conflict theory indicates that the field of medicine is a social structure that is based upon capitalistic ideology and serves to perpetuate inequality. Feminist theory argues that medicine systematically disempowers women and that notions of family are very narrowly defined. This study examined the prevalence of tubal ligation among women in the United States, specifically focusing on nonwhite and poor women in an effort to determine whether or not they are sterilized at higher rates than their white and nonpoor counterparts. Data from the National Survey for Family Growth (Cycle V) were examined using several bivariate crosstabulations, and three logistic regressions were run to see if living below the poverty level or being nonwhite had any effect on a woman's likelihood to have a tubal ligation. The results show that there is some indication that living below the poverty level and being nonwhite, among other variables including being counseled by a medical provider about tubal ligation, does increase the likelihood that a woman will have a tubal ligation.


Obstetrics and Gynecology | Sociology