California jails and prisons would be forbidden from sterilizing inmates for the purpose of birth control under a bill the state Senate passed Tuesday.
Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, wrote Senate Bill 1135 after the Center for Investigative Reporting found that over a five-year period, doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates without required state approvals. Former inmates and their advocates said that prison officials coerced women into consenting to the procedures if the officials thought they were likely to return to prison.
"This measure is absolutely necessary to make sure sterilizations are not performed in a coercive prison environment," Jackson told senators Tuesday.
The bill spells out limited circumstances in which prisons would be allowed to sterilize an inmate, such as if it is necessary to save her life. It passed the Senate with unanimous support and now heads to the Assembly for consideration.
PHOTO: Former Valley State Prison for Women inmate Kimberly Jeffrey with her son Noel, 3, shown in June 2013. During her imprisonment in 2010, Jeffrey says a doctor pressured her to agree to be sterilized, but she refused. Noah Berger/ For The Center for Investigative Reporting