The Center for Investigative Reporting has released its findings about claims that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation forced sterilizations on female inmates at the Chowchilla Valley State Prison for Women and Corona California Institution for Women.
The CIR found 150 sterilization cases between 2006 and 2018 that didn’t have state approval. Claims still under investigation suggest 100 more unapproved sterilizations occurred during the previous decade.
Compulsory sterilization of the mentally ill, prisoners and others deemed “undesirable” was once a common practice as a form of population control designed to weed out traits the popular majority considered inferior.
Although these procedures were outlawed more than 30 years ago, inmate interviews and medical records revealed that state-contracted doctors repeatedly pressured pregnant women, often during stressful C-sections, to get sterilization to better their lives. Federal funds paid doctors $147,460 per tubal ligation.
One of the doctors, James Heinrich, believes he was doing a public service, as the procedures cost less than paying welfare for unwanted children. Others defendants have stepped forward to say they were “empowering” women. Critics point out that these are the same excuses used in the past before this heinous crime was outlawed.
Haley Tillman is the lead editor for Elk Morning Star. Haley has been working as a freelance journalist for nearly a decade having published stories in many print and digital publications including, NPR and the Hillsboro Banner. Haley is based in Denver and covers issues affecting her city and Douglas County. When she’s not busy writing, Sara enjoys skiing and cycling.