Report finds nearly 40 women illegally sterilised in four Californian prisons


In total, 39 women were surgically sterilised without giving legal consent between 2006 and 2011

Jack Simpson

Four Californian prisons have been accused of carrying out illegal sterilisations on nearly forty female inmates, a new report has revealed.

The report released by the Californian State Auditor on Thursday, found that between 2005 and 2011, 39 female prisoners had been surgically sterilised without the correct consent procedures taking place.

Folsom Women’s Facility, Central California Women’s Facility, Valley State Prison for Women and the California Institution for Women were all identified by auditors as the prisons where these illegal procedures had been carried out .

Of the 144 inmates that underwent the “tubal litigations” over the six-year period, nearly a third had occurred without legal consent.

Californian state law states that sterilisation procedures can only take place between 30 and 180 days from the time a woman agrees to the procedure, “to provide the patient with enough time to reflect on her choice and to make sure she desires sterilization.”

Nevertheless, in 18 cases auditors had found serious violations of this waiting period.

In another 27 cases, it was found that there had been instances of malpractice by prison doctors.

Some cases saw medical procedures taking place without the correct documentation being signed by prison doctors, while other cases saw doctors falsify documents by saying the proper waiting period had been adhered to when it had clearly not.

Auditors have now called on federal officials to put forward the names of those medical professionals involved in the illegal procedures so that they can be investigated further.

Sen. Ted Lieu was one of the first people to call for an investigation by the Medical Board of California into the medical care in California’s state prisons.

He said that the sterilisation findings had made “his stomach sick” and he now demanded an apology from the Federal Receiver’s Office, the organisation that took over California’s prison’s health care in 2006.

Lieu said: “The audit shows systemic failures by the federal receiver in the sterilization of female

Adding: “I’m also surprised that the receiver makes the argument that they had no legal duty to make sure the prison employees comply with the consent procedures. That is a ludicrous argument.”

The investigation by the state audit was requested after an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting last July, revealed that 132 women had received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules from 2006 to 2010.

In addition to this, it was expected that over 100 more inmates had received similar illegal treatments in the 1990s.

In light of the discoveries by the CIR and the investigation by the state’s auditors, Californian Democratic State Senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson, brought in a bill in February that would outlaw sterilisation as a form of birth control in California’s female prisons.



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