Meanwhile in California, Female Prisoners Are Sterilized Without Consent

by Mary Grace Garis


There is some serious sketchiness up in the prison system. Shocking, I know.

At least 148 women were sterilized from 2006 to 2010, with a probable 100 more cases dating back to the 90s in the California Institution for Women and Valley State Prison for Women. And in many cases, these procedures were done without full consent, explanation, or extreme coercion.

Here’s the short story: several inmates who were pregnant at the time of incarceration – and signed up for a C-section were pressured by doctors before the surgery to get tubal ligation. Some were pressured mid-Caesarean to get sterilized (which is, you know, illegal) including Kimberly Jeffrey, a former Valley State inmate.

In fact, when Jeffrey was on the operating table for her Caesarean and her doctor tried confirming she was getting the procedure, she said,  “‘Tubal ligation? What are you talking about? I don’t want any procedure. I just want to have my baby,” and went into a panic.

So. Why exactly is this happening?

The medical reasoning behind performing tubal ligation tends to target women who have had multiple C-sections. Getting pregnant again could be harmful because scar tissue could tear the uterus. That’s fair. But it seems that multiple cases were presented to women without explanation of the possible health benefits, just strong persistence of “Yeah, you should totes do it.” This led some to believe that getting sterilized was just a part of being in prison.

But is this really a matter of health, or is just an attack on the lower class? Are these women being persecuted or punished for being “unfit mothers”? The target demographic seemed to be mothers with several children who had seemed “likely to return to prison in the future.” Basically it targets poor or drug addicted women who the staff thinks are trying to commit crimes so they can get better health care for their child.

It’s controversial stuff to think about, and probably a lot to take in before that first sip of your Monday morning coffee. (Or maybe your second cup. Some of us BUST-ies are slower to rise today.)

But I think the majority of us can agree that performing these procedures without consent is several different types of wrong. It’s an attack on reproductive rights just like any other.

 To quote Dr. Daun Martin, a licensed psychologist and former medical manager at Valley State, “Do I criticize those women for manipulating the system because they’re pregnant? Absolutely not.But I don’t think it should happen. And I’d like to find ways to decrease that.”

Yeah, that doesn’t sound suspicious or vaguely douchey at all.

Original article via

Images via and

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.