Female Inmates Coerced Into Illegal Sterilization in California

July 8, 2013 | Julia Dawidowicz

About 150 female inmates in California were sterilized between 2006 and 2010 after receiving misleading information and being pressured into surgery, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. Documents suggest that since the 1990s, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation performed up to 250 sterilizations without the legally required case-by-case medical consultations.

These practices hark back to the Eugenics-based forced sterilizations performed by the Nazis and, before that, those committed by the U.S. government in the early 1900s. More recently, Haaretz reported that Israeli doctors have been forcibly injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control. The disturbing phenomenon is a violation of one of the most basic human rights.

Many of the inmates feel deeply regretful and taken advantage of. “As soon as [the institution’s OB-GYN Dr. James Heinrich] found out that I had five kids, he suggested that I look into getting it done,” former Valley State Prison inmate Christina Cordero said of the tubal litigation she received in 2006. “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. Today, I wish I would have never had it done.” (Image: California Institution of Corrections and Rehabilitation