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Female prison inmates sterilized illegally, California audit confirms

By   /   June 21, 2014  /   2 Comments

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“The findings “made me sick to my stomach,” said state Sen.”Ted Lieu, D-Redondo Beach.

By Corey Johnson, The Center for Investigative Reporting

The California state auditor Thursday blasted federal and state oversight of sterilization surgeries for female prison inmates, finding numerous illegal surgeries and violations of the state’s informed-consent law.

Of the 144 tubal ligations performed on inmates from fiscal years 2005-06 to 2012-13, auditors found, more than a quarter — 39 — were done without lawful consent, according to the report by State Auditor Elaine Howle. The “true number” of illegal procedures might be higher, the audit said, because auditors found seven cases at one hospital for which health records were lost in a routine purging.

The findings “made me sick to my stomach,” said state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, who was the first to call for the Medical Board of California to investigate the surgeries after The Center for Investigative Reporting broke the story nearly a year ago. That probe has not been completed.

Former inmates and prisoner advocates have claimed that prison medical staffers coerced the women, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison after they were released. The new audit notes that all women receiving tubal ligations in state prisons from 2005 to 2013 had been incarcerated at least once before. However, prison medical officials have denied any ill intent.

 In addition, the audit found:

• Inmates receiving tubal ligations typically were between 26 and 40 and had been pregnant five or more times before being sterilized. Fifty white women, 53 Latino women, 35 black women and six women classified as “other” received the procedure.

• Most of the women tested at less than a high school level of reading proficiency, the report stated, with about one-third of the inmates who received the surgery reading below the sixth-grade level.

This story was produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting, an independent, nonprofit newsroom based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more, visit cironline.org. Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@cironline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CoreyGJohnson

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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.


  1. The doctor involved is Dr. James Heinrich, Valley State’s OB-GYN. Heinrich previously told CIR that the money spent sterilizing inmates was minimal “compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”

    Many Californians favor population control, but Californians didn’t intentionally hire a Dr. Josef Mengele Neo-Nazi to sterilize California women without their knowledge. This Neo-Nazi MF is a disgrace, and ought to be disbarred.

  2. ironman ironman says:

    I’m with you Branson,
    I expected this article to be about something that happened in the 30′s, my jaw dropped when I found out that it occurred in the 21st century!

    Disbarred, he should be locked up!


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