Bombay gynecologist Pravin Mehta “peered through” the laparoscope, a “stainless- steel probe with a pistol grip and a light source.” He located and grasped a fallopian tube “in the instrument’s crab- like claw and, squeezing a trigger, snapped a plastic ring over the captured tube, making a tight ligature, rather in the manner of a stapler.” 1 When the second tube was similarly ligated, Mehta invited Times correspondent Trevor Fishlock to “look through the laparoscope at his handiwork, at the tube tied neater than a sailor’s reef knot.” 2 It was May 1981 and the tubes belonged to Manbhar, a thirty-year-old mother of two sons and one girl who had “walked six miles across the desert to have herself sterilized” at a makeshift clinic or “camp” set up in a school sixty miles south of Jaipur, Rajasthan. She had heard about a new operation performed by a “magic telescope” that was “so quick and efficient that she would be back in time to cook the evening meal and could be working next day in the fields.” 3 Since the heyday of population control in the 1970s, 4 millions of women like Manbhar have been sterilized by the scope, making tubal ligation (or tubectomy) the most prevalent form of contraception worldwide. 5 In India and other countries, tubal ligation is often known simply as “the operation.
|Title of host publication||A World of Populations|
|Subtitle of host publication||The Production, Transfer, and Application of Demographic Knowledge in the Twentieth Century in Transnational Perspective|
|Editors||Heinrich Hartmann, Corinna Unger|
|Place of Publication||New York|
|Number of pages||31|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Sep 2014|
- surgical sterilization
- population control
Olszynko-Gryn, J. (2014). Laparoscopy as a technology of population control: a use-centered history of surgical sterilization. In H. Hartmann, & C. Unger (Eds.), A World of Populations: The Production, Transfer, and Application of Demographic Knowledge in the Twentieth Century in Transnational Perspective (pp. 147-177).