By: Amanda Froelich,
Yes, this is a real thing going on – in California of all places. In order to cut welfare costs of possible children being had in the future, doctors have sterilized over 150 women.
These procedures cost California taxpayers $147,460 between 1997 and 2010, but the physicians at the prison argue it is money well-spent.
“Over a ten year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children,” stated Dr. James Heinrich, OB-GYN at Valley State Prison for Women.
Such a procedure may seem harsh, but it is not illegal. It was in 1927 that the Supreme Court allowed forcible sterilization of women in jail during Buck vs Bell. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. spoke for the majority saying, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
He 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 the California prison, women are not being forced to be sterilized, but they claim doctors are pressuring them to make such that decision. One inmate commented, “I figured that’s just what happens in prison – that’s the best kind of doctor you’re going to get.”
A regulation in the state does require an approval for each sterilization procedure, but the doctors were easily able to get around that. The prison medical manager admitted she signed off on the sterilizations since Heinrich listed them as a “medical emergency.”
What are readers’ thoughts on this? Are these sterilizations wrong? Or is it right for a small group of people to decide for the masses something this serious, like the prevention of (expensive) generations of children who may be exposed to drug and crime-filled lives?