AirTalk for July 11, 2013

Calif. lawmakers call for investigation into sterilization of female inmates

Female detainees

JOSE CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images

Should female inmates be forced to undergo tubal ligations?

The Center for Investigative Reporting found that doctors with the California Department of Corrections sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without the required approvals. The report found that state doctors were paid nearly $150,000 to perform tubal ligations on inmates.

Prison Advocates maintain that many were forced to undergo the procedures, and that medical staff targeted women most likely to return to prison. Allegations like this have been made before, nearly half a century ago, when inmates accused doctors of sterilizing  the poor and mentally ill. It forced lawmakers to ban the practice in 1979.

Federal and state law ban sterilizations only if federal funds are being used. California uses states funds, but the procedure requires approval from top medical personnel. Some say the surgeries empower female inmates giving them options, especially for those on drugs or suffering other medical conditions.

What approvals do think the state should require before a sterilization? Should this be completely banned unless the inmate requests it? Do women in prison deserve the option for methods of birth control?

Guest:
Corey Johnson, reporter for The Center for Investigative Reporting


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