Friday, July 12, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #116 - Part 7

Outrage of the Week: coerced sterilization in California prisons

According to a new report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, between 2006 and 2010, doctors in California prisons illegally sterilized at least 148 female inmates. And there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s.

Doctors coerced the women into getting tubal ligations which were conducted without required state approvals and which targeted women that the staff thought were “likely to return to prison in the future.”

Dr. James Heinrich, an OB-GYN who did or oversaw a number of the procedures, naturally denied ever pressuring the women, insisting instead that he was providing an important service, an attitude that can only be described as condescendingly paternalistic and which was echoed by Daun Martin, the top medical manager at California’s Valley State Prison from 2005 to 2008, who creepily characterized the surgeries as an empowerment issue for the women. This despite the fact that she admitted that when she learned that the procedure required approval by the state on a case-by-case basis, she and Heinrich tried to find ways around the regulations, such as labeling a tubal ligation as a “medical emergency.” How that “empowers women” remains a mystery.

We had a name for this kind of brutality in years past: We called it eugenics, where we decided that certain types of people were inferior and should not be allowed to reproduce. At one time, 32 states had compulsory sterilization laws directed at minorities, the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill, and prisoners. It wasn’t until 1979 that California banned the practice.

And if you have any doubt that this is what is going on here, consider the words of Dr. Heinrich, who said any woman who now claims she didn’t want the surgery is lying and is, quoting him, “somebody looking for the state to give them a handout” and who just, quoting again, “wants to stay on the state’s dole somehow.”

Told of the nearly $150,000 the state had paid to local contract doctors for the surgeries, he called it minimal, especially, quoting again, “compared to what you save in welfare as they procreated more.”

So here’s the thing: If you do not find those words to be those of a bigot, if you do not find this whole business a sordid, foul, stinking outrage, you should stop watching this show and spend that time trying to figure out where your moral development went so disastrously wrong.



DaisyDeadhead said...

Linked on Google Plus! We covered this on our show too.

Hope all is well with you!

LarryE said...

All is well with me, as least as well as can be with heat waves, not enough work, and various frustrations. :-\

How about you?

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