SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A human-rights group claims more than 100 female prisoners were illegally sterilized as a form of birth control.
Activists call Tuesday’s hearing at the state capitol a historic moment and the culmination of a years-long fight for justice.
They demand the state apologize and provide reparations to upward of 100 pregnant women they claim were illegally sterilized behind bars.
“The sterilization and attacks on bodily autonomy are an outrage to latinas, to our community, to other Angelinos, and to Californians.”
According to Justice Now, it happened at Valley State Prison and California Institution for Women between 2006 and 2010.
“Prisoners signed waivers for procedures including tubal ligations, but claim they were harassed or misled into agreeing to a procedure they didn’t want.
“You really feel like you’re under coercion,” said Misty Rojo with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. “You feel like if the doctors are telling you to do it, you should do it, whether you feel like you should or not.”
Testifying before the senate Public Safety Committee, state officials say they’ve made changes and made it clear to prison doctors that the procedure is only to be done when medically necessary.
If a tubal ligation is set to be performed now, it’s red-flagged by the computer system and reviewed.
A tubal ligation is a form of sterilization that involves the blocking, clamping or cutting of the fallopian tube.
“I believe the problem has been properly and adequately addressed.”
Advocates say that isn’t the case, calling on lawmakers to pass a bill putting stronger safeguards in place.
Legislators, like Sen. Joel Anderson, say they’re listening, ready to act.
“The bottom line is we want to treat women with basic fairness and dignity these are basic human rights, and that we want to stand a clear signal we won’t stand for any practice that undermines that.”
Since 2010, state officials say only one tubal ligation has been performed. That procedure has since been reviewed and deemed medically necessary.