New movie premiers on HBO

By Annette Lesure

 A SILENCED HISTORY— Main character Eva captured with a sorrowful stare in the movie.

HBO will premiere “For Rosa,” a film by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone who created it to show that women will no longer be silenced. 

She was inspired by the Madrigal Ten, a group of East LA Latinas sterilized without consent during childbirth at the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center in the 1970s.

 The short that will air Saturday was first screened at East Los Angeles College in 2020. 

The ELAC Zoom event included a Q & A with the film’s writer and director Boyd-Batstone, 28.

 Boyd-Batstone said she was inspired to write her thesis film about the Madrigal Ten after watching a PBS documentary called “No Más Bebés.” 

She was shocked to learn that she was born and raised in Southern California and had never heard of the case.

 Boyd-Batstone said she wanted to share this film to honor the Madrigal Ten and other women whose voices were never heard.

 Boyd-Batstone announced the HBO release on her Instagram account and wrote, “This film is for the many women who have been made to feel small and to remind you that we see you, and we will continue to fight to make sure you are heard and not silenced.”

 The Madrigal Ten filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Doctor James Quilligan in Los Angeles, California, after being sterilized without knowledge or proper consent. 

The case known as “Madrigal v. Quilligan” came about when the one key witness, USC medical student Karen Benker, testified against Quilligan and his practices.

 Boyd-Batstone said the women experienced medical racism and that eugenics played a role in these sterilizations and that the eugenics movement in California was created to sterilize women that were not deemed as fit for procreating. 

She said population control and the war on poverty were both factors in sterilizing these Mexican American women”.

 PBS wrote of how at the start of 1909, federal agencies began funding states based on the number of sterilized procedures performed on women that fell into these categories. 

California was responsible for 2/3 of the illegal operations against women.

 Boyd-Batstone said that although the “Madrigal v. Quilligan” case was ruled in favor of the doctors, changes were made. The changes include better-informed consent forms for women and bilingual paperwork for non-native English speakers. 

The judge who tried the case passed away, and President Richard Nixon appointed the new judge who refused the woman any reparations for their irreversible damages.

 Dora Gonzalez, a clerk at the Women’s Clinic at LAC + USC Hospital, refused to comment about The Madrigal Ten but insisted that these practices no longer exist. 

Gonzalez said women would never be sterilized without their consent and that all medical staff is well trained in the process of counseling a patient and filling out authorization forms.

 Boyd-Batstone said the hospital is currently demolishing the ward where these women were victimized and is rebuilding it in hopes of reaching out to the community and repairing the mistrust created with the history of these cases in the media.

 Boyd-Batstone said the hospital now keeps the consent document in a master database for their staff to quickly access but said she knows, based on her recent research, that these practices are far from over.

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