Women Prisoners Sterilized To Cut Welfare Costs In California


In California, prison doctors have sterilized over 150 women to prevent them from having children who will ultimately end up on welfare funding. The procedures are costly to California taxpayers, who have contributed nearly $150,000 between 1997 and 2010.

Shockingly, the procedures are not illegal. In 1927 the Supreme Court ruled that women can be forced to be sterilized in jail, a law that was determined in Buck vs. Bell. Representing the majority vote, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Holmes, Jr. stated, “three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

The law continues on to say, “We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the state for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence.”

Although California prisons are not actively forcing their prisoners to be sterilized, female inmates have claimed that they feel pressured by the doctors to make the decision. One inmate who was interviewed about the process, claimed, “I figured that’s just what happens in prison—that that’s the best kind of doctor you’re going to get.”

There is currently a regulation in California that requires state approval for each procedure, although prison Doctors have been able to get around that process by claiming that the sterilizations are a “medical emergency.”

Dr. James Heinrich, an OB-GYN at Valley State Prison for Women commented that, “over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children—as they procreated more.”

What do you think about this? Are sterilizations wrong? Or do they prevent a new generation of crime-ridden youth on welfare?


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