Scores of female inmates underwent the procedure, which is supposed to be prohibited for California prisoners, between 2006 and 2010. Prison officials released documents that revealed hundreds of female inmates have been sterilized since 1997. They also produced a 1999 memo directing tubal ligation in post-partum care.
After a federal court ruled human rights abuses were taking place under California state leadership, it appointed the federal receiver to take control of the state’s prison health care. But the sterilizations continued.
California has a unique legacy of discouraging reproduction by people with “less desirable” characteristics. Alexandra Minna Stern, a professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, says a third of all involuntary sterilizations performed nationally under eugenics laws during the 20th century occurred in California.
“Eugenics, as much as it was about hereditary control, it was also about social control,” Stern says. “So it sought to control those and then deprive the reproductive ability [of] those who are identified as problem people in society — so those who were identified as sexually deviant, as you know, a burden on the state, as morons, as feeble-minded.”
California’s eugenics law was repealed in 1979, but Stern says the recent prison sterilizations have those overtones. Prison officials say the medically unnecessary procedures stopped in 2010 — the same year Kimberly Jeffrey’s son Noel was born.
North Carolina also had a eugenics program.
Read More: NPR
- Calif. Seeks Answers On Questionable Prison Sterilizations (wnyc.org)
- Lawmakers Pledge More Oversight over Illegal Sterilizations (fox40.com)
- Horrific History: Doctor Puts Animal Testicles in Prisoners Without Consent (demonicnews.wordpress.com)
- Conference: Eugenics In California: A Legacy of the Past?, UC Berkeley, Aug. 28 (lawprofessors.typepad.com)