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Asshats in Elevators: "Sterilize the Poor" Edition

A woman crouches by the wall of the skyway. She's got a cardboard sign: "My baby passed away. He was stillborn. 3 other kids. Homeless. Please help."

It's been a long day, so my mind buzzes with other things until I get in the parking garage elevator, where a middle-aged woman who must have been right behind me starts talking. "Did you see that girl begging?" she says. "Three kids already."


Why is she talking to me? Do I know her? I sort of smile at her and look away. The elevator rises.

"She should have gotten her tubes tied," the woman says. "I felt so guilty, but you can't just give money to these people."


Because I'm sure she could afford a tubal ligation, I think. And all the time off work. Because she obviously has a supportive partner who lets her make her own decisions about pregnancy and contraception, and a healthcare provider that meets her needs. Because sterilization is the go-to solution for poor women. Because these things should only be private unless you're destitute, in which case they're up for public discussion in elevators, where strangers will shame you for decisions that might not have been yours and assume that everyone will agree with them. Because there's a wall between "these people" and real people.

But I'm scared of her, and I don't say anything.

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