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How Black Female Prisoners are Sterilized to Cut Welfare Costs in California

It is shocking, the kind of treatment that is handed out to black people in America in this 21st century. Many of us have read of the sterilization of African American people in the early and mid-1990s, but we didn’t imagine it would still be going on now.

In California of all places, it has been reported that prison doctors have sterilized over 150 Black women.

Their reason has been that the American system doesn’t want to have to provide welfare funding for any children these women may have in the future.

The ungodly sterilization procedures cost California taxpayers $147,460 between 1997 and 2010. The doctors at the prison have argued that it is money well-spent.

An OB-GYN, Dr. James Heinrich, at Valley State Prison for Women, 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.”

How Black Female Prisoners Are Sterilized To Cut Welfare Costs In California

Although these procedures may seem harsh, it is surprising to find that they are not illegal in the United States.

A Supreme Court ruling in 1927 states that women can be forcibly sterilized in jail in Buck vs Bell.

In a shocking defense for the majority, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Life of the Citizens

Holmes wrote, “We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the state for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence.”


In California prisons, the jailed women are not necessarily being forced to undergo sterilization. But the women say they get coerced and pressured by the doctors to make the decision. One of the inmates said, “I figured that’s just what happens in prison – that that’s the best kind of doctor you’re going get.”

There is a regulation in California that requires the state to approve each sterilization procedure. Doctors at the prison were able to cut corners and get around that, however. The prison medical manager said she signed off on the sterilization procedures since Heinrich listed them as a “medical emergency.”

How Black Female Prisoners Are Sterilized To Cut Welfare Costs In California

Do you think these sterilizations are wrong? On one hand, the very idea is somewhat disturbing. On the other hand, however, it likely does prevent more generations of (expensive) children exposed to drug and crime-filled lives.

It beats the imagination to see humans playing God in the lives of other humans. How does one determine or know that a child was going to be useless or a burden to the society, just because of his/her parent’s negative past?

Who says an ex-convict can not give birth to a child who can later become an icon and role model to the society?

Procreation is natures gift, and everyone, no matter their wrongdoing or right doings, should own the right to decide if to procreat or not.

What the government should focus on is creating equal rights and justice for the African Americans in America. The government should reduce the victimization of black people so that the risk of them been imprisoned for little or nothing would be eliminated.


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