A report issued by the Center for Investigative Reporting reveals that 148 female inmates were coerced by doctors to get tubal ligation surgeries. Commonly referred to as getting the “tubes tied,” the procedure is a permanent birth control method. The unethical medical procedures allegedly took place between 2006 and 2010 at the California Institution for Women in Corona and Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla.
The surgeries were performed “without required state approvals” and targeted pregnant inmates “deemed likely to return to prison in the future.”
Dr. James Heinrich says the service he provided were important to poor women who faced health risks in future in pregnancies due to past C-sections and denies pressuring inmates.
The doctors were paid $147,460 by the state.
Kimberly Jeffrey, 43, tells CIR, she was pressured by a doctor while under sedation and strapped to a surgical table. In 2010, Jeffrey was imprisoned at Valley State for violating her parole and had a Caesarean performed. She shares, “He said, ‘So we’re going to be doing this tubal ligation, right?’ I’m like, ‘Tubal ligation? What are you talking about? I don’t want any procedure. I just want to have my baby.’ I went into a straight panic.”
Jeffrey says it wasn’t the first request. She actually rejected the surgery in December 2009 during a prenatal visit with Heinrich. She and her 3-year-old son Noel live in San Francisco. Having recently taken the ACT, she plans to attend San Francisco State University. In the meantime, she’s a public speaker and has lobbied legislators in Sacramento on the subject.
Photo credit: Noah Berger/For The Center for Investigative Reporting