Coerced Sterilization In California Prisons

In 1924, a young Virginia woman named Carrie Buck was involuntarily committed by her foster parents to the ominously named Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded in Lynchburg, VA. While there is was decided based on her declared status as incorrigible, feebleminded, and promiscuous that after she gave birth to the child she was carrying (oddly enough, the pregnancy that resulted in her being termed promiscuous was the product of her rape by a relative of her foster parents ) that she would be involuntarily sterilized.


Her guardian sued to prevent the action and eventually the case wound up in the United States Supreme court. By an 8-1 vote, the sole dissenter was the Court’s lone Catholic, Joseph Pierce Butler, the court ruled that Buck could be sterilized. Wrote Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes:

In view of the general declarations of the legislature and the specific findings of the Court, obviously we cannot say as matter of law that the grounds do not exist, and, if they exist, they justify the result. 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. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

There you have it. Forcing a young woman to undergo sterilization is no different from getting a vaccination. Besides, those kids would just have to be killed or incarcerated anyway.

Eugenics has long held a strong appeal to the modern left. It is no coincidence that Margaret Sanger, founder Planned Parenthood, opined:


[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

Eugenics is part of a utilitarian view of society that simply evaluates each person and activity based on its perceived costs and benefits. If the mother is poor, just abort the baby and save the downstream costs. If a newborn has severe birth defects then euthanasia may be warranted because of the costs of health care and actually it would be a mercy because the baby would never have a good “quality of life.” The elderly may, as former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm stated, have “a duty to die” to make life easier on everyone else.

While we all thought we no longer involuntarily sterilize, though Buck v. Bell remains remains the law of the land, the practice was not dead, as it turns out it was just resting.

Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals, The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.

At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

The story goes on to detail many instances in which women were sterilized seemingly without any medical reason or even a sham of informed consent.

While this form of coercion is objectionable enough, perhaps even more objectionable are the actions of a non-profit based, naturally, in California that pays alcoholics and drug addicts to undergo sterilization with tax deductible contributions.


This organization, called Project Prevention (what is it about groups with their names beginning in two Ps?)  has as its goal the reduction in the number of babies born with disabilities due to the mother’s alcohol or drug abuse. It was formerly known by the cute little acronym the left churns out from some hipster sweatshop in the East Village as  Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity or CRACK. Get it?

Being a truly modern organization it also offers vasectomies to males and it could have solved Sandra Fluke’s problem as it pays women to use long term birth control thereby turning her hobby from a cost center into a profit center. It does this by offering prospective clients up to $300. Regardless of how laudable their goal is, the underlying rationale is undeniable. In the words of its founder, Barbara Harris:

“We don’t allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children.”

Efficacy aside, there is a certain distasteful quality in analogizing people to feral animals and there is a question of the ethics of paying a person suffering from an addiction, at arguably the nadir of their life, to give up their ability to ever have a family for a day’s supply of crack.

Today’s society, which is slowly but surely stripping away all moral and ethical imperatives that do not involve satisfying one’s libido and stimulating the brain’s pleasure center, is particularly vulnerable to the idea that mankind is perfectible.  Religion has been discarded in favor of the three ugly sisters of the modern age: scientism, utilitarianism, and materialism.


When we social conservatives speak of a pro-life agenda this is what we mean. People stripped of their inate humanity and reduced to numbers on some societal ledger kept by a do-gooder. Periodically the ledgers are balanced and the losers are killed. Coerced sterilization is only a small part. We have abortion on demand. We have “assisted suicide.” We starve comatose patients to death. While we may not be quite ready to adopt our own version of the Groningen Protocol, that is certainly on the horizon as Obamacare and the death panels gather momentum.



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