The Doctors: Sterilized Without Consent
The Doctors wanted to take time to talk about the shocking news that women are being sterilized without informed consent. Over 100 female inmates were sterilized in California. Between 2006 and 2010, at least 148 women were allegedly sterilized illegally in California prisons. Without consenting to the procedure, women were undergoing tubal ligation, which inhibits women from being able to have a child naturally ever again. In some cases, full hysterectomies were performed.
Rae, a 40-year-old inmate serving life without parole, shared that she was told there were no options available to her because “she was a lifer.” She wasn’t allowed to ask questions and found out later they had removed her cervix. The majority of the women were African-Americans in their early twenties, strong-armed into getting the procedures without fully understanding what the outcome would be.
Another female inmate shared that her prison doctor made it seem like it was a matter of life or death. She told him she didn’t want a hysterectomy and told him she was 44 years old. He told her she was too old to have any more children so it doesn’t really matter.
The Drs TV: Illegal Sterilization Of Female Prisoners
There is a new law that bans inmate sterilization without consent and it comes as even more of a surprise because since 1977 inmate sterilization and eugenics has been illegal in the United States. Dr. Rachael Ross said she thinks it marks the close of a terrible chapter in our history. For those who don’t know what eugenics means, it was born under the concept that the perfect human being has blue eyes and blonde hair, and everyone else needs to be gotten rid of. She said the sterilization came from the eugenics movement.
Dr. Jennifer Berman said that when it comes to medical procedures, the importance of informed consent is drilled into them. She said informed consent means the person needs to understand what the procedure is, know the risks and benefits, and sign a paper saying they know exactly what is going to be done to them. Dr. Travis Stork explained that consent is meaningless if it’s not informed consent. He said there are horrific individual stories.
The Doctors: Illegal Hysterectomies Performed On Female Inmates
He further explained that the female prisoners who were subjected to the procedures feel as if they’ve been violated. Sheri, a 35-year-old woman who was sterilized while she was incarcerated, shared that what makes her a woman has been taken away from her. She called it a “form of abuse” and said it will follow her to her grave. She said she wishes she could be a mother again but she won’t be able to.
She said she realized something was wrong and said what she was hearing about women in prison, mimicked what she heard about Jewish history and the sterilization of young women. Sheri served 15 years for killing the man she said abused her for years, and she now works with a domestic abuse organization. She joined The Doctors on the phone.
Sheri said she was happy to hear about the law and feels personally victorious and relieved. Dr. Rachael Ross applauded Sheri for her bravery. Dr. Ross said the good part is that an ugly part of California history is over.