Female Inmates Illegally Sterilized in Calif. Prisons

As many as 250 women were sterilized without state approval between 1997 and 2010. One OB-GYN says it likely saved the state money.

Female Inmates Illegally Sterilized in Calif. Prisons

(Image source: CIR / California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation)


Over four years, female inmates in California were illegally sterilized without the required approval from the state.

The Center for Investigative Reporting says almost 150 women received tubal ligations between 2006 and 2010.

And — citing state documents — the center says there could be as many as 100 more — going back to the late ‘90s. Between 1997 and 2010, California paid doctors nearly $150,000 to perform the procedures. (Via WGCL)

In California, it’s alright to use state money to fund sterilizations in prison — so long as a medical review committee approves each procedure case-by-case.

But records show that review process simply didn’t happen in that four-year gap between 2006 and 2010. (Via Digital Journal)

The Atlantic Wire cites America’s “long and gruesome history” of forced sterilizations in prisons.

“It’s against the law to pressure a female inmate to have the procedure during labor or childbirth … And you can’t use federal funding to pay for the procedure in a prison, because of worries that the funding would make inmates feel like they had to do it.”

Former inmate Christina Cordero is quoted in this Salon article, saying,As soon as [the doctor] found out that I had five kids, he suggested that I look into getting it done. … He made me feel like a bad mother if I didn’t do it.”

That particular OB-GYN — Dr. James Heinrich — told the Center for Investigative Reporting that California likely saved money by recommending the surgeries. He denies claims he coerced any of the inmates into sterilization.