It was reported in 2013, that Doctors contracted by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, sterilized almost 150 female inmates without the required state approvals, from 2006 to 2010. The findings were made by the Center for Investigative Reporting.
The process which is called ‘tubal ligations’ was carried out on at least 148 women, and it violated the prison’s rules. The report also suggested that perhaps 100 more such unapproved sterilizations were carried out dating back to the late 1990s, according to documents from the state office and interviews of former inmates and officials.
The report stated that the state paid doctors $147,460, from 1997 to 2010, o carry out the medical procedure. The figures were gotten from a database that held the various contracted medical services for state prisoners.
The women, when pregnant, were signed up for surgery and kept in the California Institution for Women in Corona or Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, which has now been converted into a men’s prison.
According to ABC News, the investigation showed that two African American women were involved in the sterilization. Their names were Michelle Anderson and Kimberly Jeffrey.
The testimonies of former inmates and prisoner advocates strongly suggest that the prison medical staff coerced the women, with more emphasis on those who were likely to return to the prison in the future.
According to NBC-Bay Area, a former Valley State Prison inmate, Crystal Nguyen, said that she often overheard the medical staff of the prison asking inmates who returned to the prison for more prison terms to agree to sterilization.
In a statement, Crystal Nguyen, said: “I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not right… Do they think they’re animals, and they don’t want them to breed anymore?”
Also, another former inmate of the Valley State prison, Christina Cordero, who gave birth to her son in October 2006 confessed that the prison’s OB-GYN, Dr. James Heinrich, continuously pressured her to accept a tubal ligation.
In her statement, she said: “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… “He made me feel like a bad mother if I didn’t do it.”
Christina Cordero finally agreed to the doctor’s pressure and had the tubal ligation done. Although, she regrets it today, as she told the reporters.
When Heinrich, one of the physicians involved were interviewed, he denied ever forcing any of the women and stated that he was only providing an important service to poor women who were likely to face health challenges in their future pregnancies because of past cesarean sections.
Heinrich described the $147,460 paid to doctors as minimal. He said that Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money,… compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”
Daun Martin, a licensed psychologist, who was a top medical manager at Valley State Prison from 2005 to 2008 denied approving the surgeries, even though 60 tubal ligations were carried out at Vallet State during his stay, according to the state’s contract database.
Although the sterilization of inmates has long been outlawed in America, there have been some instances where inmates have been coerced. One such instances were when a Tennessee judge gave dozens of inmates an option of removing a month off their sentence if they underwent surgical sterilization, in a story that was published by Vice.com in May 2019.
In 2014, NBC News reported that California had banned the sterilization of female inmates without consent. This was done after reports showed that medical officials did not get consent from dozens of imprisoned women before the procedure was carried out.
The bill which was signed prohibits the sterilization of inmates as a means of birth control in prisons and correctional facilities in California. The only time this procedure can be carried out without consent is when the patient’s life is in danger and when there is an emergency and no other options are left to save the patient’s life.
This article initially reported that sterilization was done was to cut the cost of welfare in California by the California government. We agree that the report was made in error, and have made the necessary corrections. We thank Lead Stories for pointing out this error to our team.