The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Following reports of forced sterilization of female prison inmates, California passes ban

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill Thursday prohibiting forced sterilization in prisons. A report last year said that female inmates at facilities were being coercively sterilized as recently as 2010.

Nearly 150 female inmates were sterilized between 2006 and 2010 by doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. A May state audit reported that some of the tubal ligations in that time were done illegally without informed consent, according to Justice Now, an advocacy group.

“Pressuring a vulnerable population into making permanent reproductive choices without informed consent is unacceptable, and violates our most basic human rights,” said state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D), the bill’s sponsor, in a statement.

Kelli Dillon, a Los Angeles domestic violence counselor, said she experienced forced sterilization when she was 24 years old in a California prison and said the bill “will protect the rightful reproductive capacity of women inside prison.”

“No one should have their opportunity to be a mother taken away or decided for them,” she said in a statement.

The bill prohibits sterilization as a form of birth control except for certain medical emergencies and was passed unanimously by the California Senate and Assembly.