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Sra. Victoria Espinoza of Peru speaks about being sterilized without her knowledge or consent during Cesarean-section delivery

Congressional Briefing
February 23, 1998

It is very important to say that before the tubal ligation, it was
very difficult for me to conceive children because of hormonal
problems. I took pills to regulate my menstrual cycle and for
fertility, and so became pregnant.

On the 23rd of April, 1996, I went to a private clinic. I had been
having spotting, but did not think it very important because there was
very little blood. I was at 32–33 weeks of pregnancy. Then, since I
was on Social Security, I preferred to go to the hospital, and the
doctor transferred me there. I did not have any family members with
me, but went with a friend. An obstetric nurse in training admitted
me. She told me to wait for the intern, who would be coming down. I
told the intern my situation, that I had a great deal of pain. During
that time, I was in great pain. The nurse asked “How many children do
you have?” I responded “This is the third,” and she said, “Are you
going to be sterilized?” I didn’t answer, because I wasn’t interested,
and was feeling great pain.

So they prepared to operate on me. The intern asked, “Do you have
any family here?” “No,” I responded, and I signed without reading,
because of the pain, They did a Caesarean on me. On the afternoon of
the next day, when I wanted to see my child, they told me he was dead.
The intern came with my doctor. I said, “I want to go home now.” The
intern said, “She is very sad because her child died.” My doctor then
said, “You will have another child,” to help calm me down. But I heard
the intern whisper, “No, she is ligated.”

In the afternoon, the obstetric nurse on call came in to take my
blood pressure. I said, “Please, they say that I have been
sterilized?” She went to find the intem, and hesaid, “Yes, they
peformed a ligation on the lady.” Later, the intern came and said,
“Forgive me for what has happened. I feel guilty.”

I left on the third day. I felt completely defeated, depressed
about never having more children, and went to see a psychiatrist to
overcome the depression. And I still have faith that I may one day
have more children.

It’s rare for a case like mine to come to light, even though I know
my rights. But if it was so difficult for me, living in the city,
where there is help available, and education, to make a formal
complaint, it is seven times harder for the poor people in the
countryside to lodge complaints, because they do not know their

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