07/25/13 Forced Sterilizations


Nearly 150 female inmates were sterilized between 2006 and 2010 in California’s prison system.  This was accomplished without state notification or approval as is required by California law, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Sterilizations were commonplace in America during the first half of last century.  Eugenics was wildly popular with 20th century progressives who saw it as a method to purify the race and eliminate undesirables. 

Margaret Sanger was a leader of the Eugenics movement.  She wrote extensively of eliminating people she identified as the poor, minorities, feeble-minded, ill and infirm, and immigrants from Eastern Europe.

The American Eugenics movement fell into disfavor with the rise of the Nazis who were also practitioners of Eugenics.

It is against US and California law to perform sterilizations with federal funds.  So, prison officials paid for the procedures with state monies. 

Various officials and prisoners report that many inmates who were sterilized were pressured into agreeing to the procedure.  Some consented while they were under sedation.  It is for these reasons that California law requires each individual sterilization be approved on a case-by-case basis by senior medical officials in the capital at Sacramento.

Even imprisoned women have a right to protection from state officials practicing eugenics.  California should undertake a full-scale investigation.

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