Four California prisons illegally sterilized 39 women over a six-year period, a damning new report by the California State Auditor reveals.
Of the 144 inmates who underwent bilateral tubal ligations, commonly referred to as having your tubes tied, from fiscal years 2005-06 to 2012-13, auditors found nearly one-third were performed without lawful consent.
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In 27 cases, the inmate’s physician – the individual who would perform the procedure in a hospital, or an alternate physician — did not sign the required consent form indicating the patient was of sound mind and understood the permanence of the operation.
For 18 of the 39 inmates, potential violations of the waiting period were noted between when the inmate consented to the procedure and when the sterilization surgery actually took place.
According to California state law, sterilization can only be carried out between 30 and 180 days from the time a woman agrees to the procedure, “to provide the patient with enough time to reflect on her choice and to make sure she desires sterilization.”
The auditors further found that in 12 instances in which medical staff sought approval for sterilization procedures, “less than a week elapsed between the date of the request and the date of the surgery.”
What’s more, in some cases physicians doctored the consent forms to show the necessary waiting period had passed even though it had not.
The audit also said the “true number” of illegal procedures might be higher, noting that it had found seven cases at one hospital for which health records were lost in a routine purging.
Folsom Women’s Facility, Central California Women’s Facility, Valley State Prison for Women and the California Institution for Women were all identified by auditors as the prisons where these illegal procedures had been carried out, according to the report, which was released Thursday.
The last of the sterilizations occurred in 2011.
“It made me sick to my stomach,” said Democratic state senator Ted Lieu, who was the first to call for an investigation by the Medical Board of California, which is ongoing, according to The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR).