Doctor defends illegal sterilizations of female inmates in California: it saved money on welfare
SACRAMENTO, July 8, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – At least 148 female prison inmates were sterilized in California over just four years, a practice that evaded state law, according to a new report by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). Some of the women have said they were repeatedly pressured into undergoing the irreversible procedure without any apparent medical reason.
In response to the revelations, the doctor who performed the procedures is boasting that he saved the state money on welfare.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation performed the tubal ligations between 2006-2010, but may have engaged in the process another 100 more times in the preceding two decades, according to the report.
All reported procedures took place at Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, California, or California Institution for Women in Corona.
Sixty-nine-year-old Dr. James Heinrich, who acted as obstetrician at Valley State, said the procedures were well worth the money spent, which totaled $147,460.
Heinrich said, "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."
Psychologist Daun Martin, who bore responsibility for all medical decisions at Valley State between 2005 and 2008, admitted that she and Heinrich discussed ways around state regulations against performing sterilizations upon women in their care.
Heinrich would suggest a ligation for a woman and ask, “Can we do it?” Martin told CIR. “I said, 'Well, if you document it as a medical emergency, perhaps.'”
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Since 2006, the California Prison Health Care Receivership Corp. has had to approve every individual sterilization. However, it had given no such authorization for the sterilizations at the prison, although the group was aware the irreversible method of contraception – which is state-funded in California – was taking place.
Although Dr. Heinrich told reporters he only offered the procedures to women who faced complications from having had at least three previous c-sections, records show he offered the procedure more widely, chiefly to women with multiple children and those he believed were likely to reoffend.
“As soon as he found out that I had five kids, he suggested that I look into getting it done," said 34-year-old Christina Cordero, who eventually consented to the surgery. She now regrets it.
State law ended forced sterilization of inmates in 1979 and requires that fully informed consent of sterilizations be given at a time when the subject is not undergoing another procedure.
But 43-year-old Kimberly Jeffrey, who returned to prison following a parole violation, says she rejected requests to have a tubal ligation on two occasions – once while strapped to a table and sedated, according to the Sacramento Bee. “They repeatedly offended me by denying me my right to dignity and humanity," she said.
Life Dynamics President, Mark Crutcher says he is not at all surprised by this alleged abuse of power. “When you sell out to a eugenics philosophy then forced sterilization and abortion are a natural extension of that mentality,” he said. “We have seen this abuse before and documented it in our film on eugenics called, Maafa21.”
“What happened recently in California is merely an extension of a philosophy that has been around for decades,” dating to Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger's single-minded commitment to eugenics, Life Dynamics said in a press release.
Crutcher was not the only one to see the hand of eugenics behind the procedure.
“Do they think they're animals, and they don't want them to breed anymore?” asked Crystal Nguyen, who worked in the infirmary at Chowchilla as an inmate.
California has a dark history of forced sterilizations. According to CNN, some 20,000 individuals were sterilized without consent in the state between 1909 and 1963, a time when eugenics thinking had spread across the Western world.
California was not alone, although it was by far the worst offender. Thirty-two states had some form of eugenics program. North Carolina continues to seek survivors of the state's eugenics program, which sterilized those deemed “feeble-minded.” Experts estimate that 7,600 were individuals sterilized between 1929 and 1974 under the program in that state.
Elaine Riddick, who was forcibly sterilized in North Carolina when she was 13, made headlines in 2011 when she shared her story about the procedure 40 years previous.
“My heart bleeds every single day,” she said. “They cut me open like I was a hog.”