Potentially hundreds of women wrongly sterilized in California prisons

By Stephen C. Webster
Sunday, July 7, 2013 21:48 EDT
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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation wrongly sterilized nearly 150 women between 2006 and 2010, The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) has learned.

CIR reporter Corey G. Johnson obtained a database of contracted medical procedures that showed 148 women who were confirmed to have been given tubal ligations, but the report noted that there may be another 100 or more dating back to the 1990s.

Advocates for female prisoners in the state told Johnson that most of the sterilizations were coerced and inmates thought most likely to be jailed again were targeted.

Christina Cordero, who spent two years in Valley State Prison and was sterilized during her time there, reportedly said that the facility’s OB-GYN doctor began suggesting the procedure “as soon as he found out that I had five kids.”

Another inmate who landed in the prison while pregnant with her eighth child reportedly said she was sterilized and never told why. “I figured that’s just what happens in prison — that that’s the best kind of doctor you’re going to get,” the report quotes 42-year-old Nikki Montano as saying.

Johnson also discovered that the procedures were carried with no official sanctions, in spite of a state law that requires individual approval by state medical officials.

The state formally banned the widespread practice of sterilizing repeat offenders and the mentally handicapped in 1979.

["Stock Photo: Upset Businesswoman Standing Behind Bars In Jail" on Shutterstock.]

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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