FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SACRAMENTO, CA -- Today, the California State Auditor released a report on the issue of coerced sterilizations in women’s state prisons, Sterilization of Female Inmates. The audit was requested last summer by members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.
In response, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), vice-chair, released the following statements:
“I want to thank the State Auditor for her diligence on this report. It’s good to get to the bottom of this appalling practice. Now we understand the full scope of the problem, the victims affected, and quite frankly, the inexcusable lack of oversight within our prison system," said Assemblywoman Lowenthal.
Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson said, “We knew there was a problem with unlawful and coerced sterilizations in the prison environment, but this report shows it is far more serious and systemic than we had thought. The audit shows that nearly a third of the tubal ligations performed on female inmates by doctors between 2005 and 2013 were performed without appropriate consent. Although safeguards and regulations were in place regarding consent forms, appropriate waiting periods, and medical approvals, these protocols were not properly followed or were ignored.
This report underscores the need for my legislation, Senate Bill 1135, which would prohibit forced or coerced sterilizations in prisons. From this report, we now have clear proof that the prison environment is an environment where consent simply cannot be obtained in a responsible, reliable manner for these procedures.
I want to commend the State Auditor, Elaine Howle, for the thoroughness and depth of this report.”
Jackson is the author of Senate Bill 1135, which is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday, June 24. Lowenthal is the principal co-author of SB 1135. A copy of the audit can be found at www.auditor.ca.gov
The California Legislative Women’s Caucus is a bicameral, bipartisan caucus of female legislators who advocate on behalf of women, children, and families in the California Legislature.