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Published on Dec 16, 2013

Sterilised behind bars – how have Eugenics programs found their way into the US prison system?

Sterilised behind Bars – How have eugenics programs found their way into US prisons?

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Eugenics is a concept so universally despised it is hard to imagine its existence in the Western world. But in California the forced sterilization of women in prisons is a terrifying, cruel reality.

“Tubal ligation, what are you talking about? I don’t want any procedure. I just want to have my baby”, one prisoner says, recounting how she went in to deliver her baby and ended up having a sterilization procedure forced upon her. Between 2006 and 2010 148 women were forced to undergo procedures like this. “We’re basically society’s trash in a lot of eyes, so it’s easy for them to just treat us as such”, Misty Rojo, a former inmate of Valley State Women’s Prison, says. She argues that the prison system makes it very easy to force through the terrible sterilization procedures, because prisoners learn to just follow orders so that they can get out quickly. “You feel compelled to comply. Because that’s what you do in there. It’s not very consensual.” Crystal, who worked in the infirmary of Dr Heinrich, the main GYN doctor in California, saw first hand how he pressurised women to be sterilized. Dr Heinrich is now being investigated, but so far the hearings to uncover what really happened haven’t brought answers.

Centre for Investigative Reporting – ref 6001

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