Bioethics Blogs

An End to Sterilization Abuses in California Prisons

Jerry Brown signed SB1135 into California law Thursday night, banning unnecessary coercive sterilizations in California prisons. The passing of this bill is a happy victory for advocates of reproductive and criminal justice as well as of human and women’s rights.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D), identified the need for the change,

Pressuring a vulnerable population into making permanent reproductive choices without informed consent is unacceptable, and violates our most basic human rights.

The bill was inspired by the efforts of Justice Now, an advocacy organization working to challenge the prison industrial complex, which originally uncovered evidence of these abuses and started a petition last year to demand that they end, as well as the important journalism of Corey Johnson of the Center for Investigative Reporting, who documented evidence of 148 illegal sterilizations taking place in California prisons between 2006 and 2010.

California bears the shameful history of having sterilized more people under 20th century eugenic laws than any other state. Over 20,000 people lost their reproductive rights because the state considered them “unfit” to reproduce. These laws disproportionately impacted communities of color, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty. It is critical to know this history so that problematic resurgences of these same ideologies do not creep back under new auspices. SB1135 is an important victory in the fight for the remembrance of our eugenic history and its ongoing implications.

We are absolutely thrilled to see this policy become law. Thank you, Jerry Brown!

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

Posted in Bioethics, Biopolitics, Parties & Pundits, California, Civil Society, Disability, Eugenics, Human Rights, Jessica Cussins’s Blog Posts, Race, Reproductive Justice, Health & Rights


Comments

Add a Comment

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.