Abortion, Forced Sterilization at the Heart of ‘Yellowstone’ Sibling Feud

July 19th, 2020 11:11 PM

Why does Beth Dutton hate her brother Jamie? The horrific answer to this longstanding question has finally been answered forYellowstone viewers on Sunday night. When Beth was a teen, Jamie knowingly took her to get an abortion at a clinic that forcibly sterilized women without their consent.

When Beth and Rip were involved as teens she became pregnant. She asked Jamie to help her get an abortion. To keep it a secret from the community, Jamie drove her to an Indian Health Clinic on the nearby reservation. He went in to arrange things with the white woman at the front desk.

The woman was surprised to see a white boy and advised him to take his sister to a Planned Parenthood in Billings instead. He showed his ID as proof that “everyone would know” if he took her there.

The woman at the clinic warned him “a requirement of patients receiving an abortion at this clinic is forced sterilization.” Jamie accepted this information and heartlessly brought his sister in anyway, without telling her what would happen.

Present-day Beth awoke in Rip’s bed tortured by this memory and her sense of loss. She refused to tell him what is wrong, only saying: “I’ve made two decisions in my life based on fear and they cost me everything.” 

Last week, Beth Dutton tearfully admitted to Rip that she cannot have children, but did not explain why. She feared this would make him reject her, but he didn’t. 

Although it’s not a provable historic fact that such a clinic would have sterilized Beth (a white woman from a wealthy family), it is an ugly, true piece of history that the U.S.-run Indian Health Service sterilized thousands of Native American women, often without consent or directly counter to their wishes, during the 1960s and 70s. Some estimated 25 percent or more Native American women of childbearing age were sterilized in those years in an effort to control populations.

Also this week on Yellowstone, a bank’s foreclosure notice drove a horse breeder to suicide. During his first day on the job as livestock commissioner, Kayce Dutton broke the law to try to help the man’s family by rounding up his horses and selling them off and giving the money to the family without the bank’s knowledge. Tribal leader Thomas Rainwater also visited John Dutton to join forces against Market Equities’ plan to build a city in the middle of their valley. Rainwater told John, “we’ll have nothing to fight over if they build a city on it.”