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Why Is India Sterilizing Women Anyway?

India needs education and economic growth to control its population, not risky sterilization programs.
Indian fertility rates are dropping naturally.

Indian fertility rates are dropping naturally.

Photographer: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

This week, 13 women in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh died while undergoing what ought to have been a routine, low-risk procedure for sterilization. The fact that these deaths -- at least 20 more women are in critical condition -- occurred in a government-run sterilization "camp" and not at the hands of unauthorized quacks has spurred understandable outrage. Chhattisgarh is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, and the opposition Congress Party has demanded the resignation of the state's chief minister and health minister.

In fact, what both opposition and BJP leaders should be asking themselves is whether the Indian government should be in the business of sterilizing women at all.