Calif. Prisons Sterilized Women Without State OK

148 had procedure between 2006 and 2010: report
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2013 6:57 AM CDT
Updated Jul 8, 2013 7:30 AM CDT
Calif. Prisons Sterilized Women Without State OK
California prisons have been sterilizing women prisoners without state consent, a report finds.   (Shutterstock)

The California prison system had at least 148 women sterilized between 2006 and 2010—without the state signing off on the move. Another 100 women may have faced the same fate since the 1990s, the Center for Investigative Reporting finds, based on state records and interviews. The inmates were pregnant when they were registered for the procedure. State-contracted doctors conducted tubal ligations, the Center notes, and the doctors were paid $147,460 between 1997 and 2010. Ex-inmates say the women were pushed into it.

Said a mother who was in prison for auto theft and gave birth in 2006: "As soon as (the prison OB-GYN, James Heinrich) 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." She ultimately agreed to the procedure. For Heinrich's part, he says he was helping women for whom future pregnancies were dangerous due to earlier cesarean sections. And "over a 10-year period, ($147,460) isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children—as they procreated more." Another top medical staffer says the women had the same choices available outside of prison. Click for the full report. (More California stories.)

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