Last month, headlines about a judge in Tennessee who offers criminals reduced sentences if they agree to be get vasectomies or take long-term birth control shocked the nation. The scrutiny didn’t elicit any remorse from the judge, who argues sterilization can combat the rise of drug-addicted newborns. But it did cause the health department to effectively end the program.
The news was a flashback to America’s long history of forced eugenic sterilizations.
In the 20th century, state governments deemed 60,000 Americans — mostly prisoners, the mentally ill and poor people — unfit to reproduce and forced them to undergo mandatory sterilization. Almost half of the controversial medical procedures occurred in just three states: California, North Carolina and Virginia.
North Carolina and Virginia have since passed laws to compensate the surviving victims of their eugenics programs, but the same can’t be said of California, which forcibly or coercively sterilized more people than any other U.S. state. From the time the state’s eugenics law was passed in 1909 to the day it was repealed 70 years later, California sterilized about 20,000 people.
In 2003, former California Gov. Gray Davis issued a formal apology to victims of forced sterilization, saying “it was a sad and regrettable chapter … one that must never be repeated.” Yet a decade later, the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that California had been sterilizing prisoners without proper consent as recently as 2010 — some of whom claimed to be coerced into it by prison staffers.
This article continues at [Governing.com] California Sterilized More People Than Any U.S. State But Has Yet to Compensate Victims