Forced Sterilization Now Banned in California Prisons

Illustration for article titled Forced Sterilization Now Banned in California Prisons

The governor of California recently signed a bill into law that will ban forced sterilizations in state prisons. That happened this week—and yes it is still the year 2014 and we are, in fact, in the United States of America.

The legislation comes after a report from the Center for Investigative Reporting which revealed that 144 women in California states prisons were sterilized between 2005 and 2010—one third of them without lawful consent.


Well, that's goddamn horrifying. The CIR's report mentions a specific doctor named James Heinrich who tried to persuade at least two women to undergo the procedures. Salon reports:

According to the one of the women interviewed during CIR's investigation, a doctor at Valley State Prison repeatedly pressured her to agree to a tubal ligation after he found out that she had other children. "As soon as he found out that I had five kids, he suggested that I look into getting it done. The closer I got to my due date, the more he talked about it," said Christina Cordero. "He made me feel like a bad mother if I didn't do it."

That doctor, James Heinrich, told CIR that the money the state spent on sterilization was minimal "compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children — as they procreated more."

Dr. Heinrich, who seems like the human incarnation of actual festering garbage, left Valley State in 2011 only to be rehired as a contract physician through December 12.

In addition to the sterilization, female inmates report that they were also denied proper prenatal care while in prison, which seems to coincide with the general approach to the wellbeing of these women.


The bill was introduced by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who is also pushing for an investigation into the physicians involved in the sterilizations.

Image via Shutterstock/sakhorn.

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They need to be made illegal on a federal level. This is horrifying.