California women inmates said they were 'bullied' into tubal ligation surgery

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A new report shows nearly 230 female inmates at California prisoners were sterilized without state approval.

The procedure called tubal ligation is better known as having one's tubes tied.

It's been banned by the State Department of Corrections because it was considered an elective surgery.

The report shows that women in Calif. prisons have been getting their tubes tied since the late 1990s.

The women involved all gave consent for the procedure. But some said they felt pressured into getting it done.

The federal authorities in charge of overseeing state prisons said they put a stop to the practice.

"In 2010, our office received a phone call and a communication with Senator Carol Liu that tubal ligations were taking place in our prisons," said Joyce Hayhoe, a State Correctional Health Care Receiver. "After we received that communication, we took immediate steps to stop the procedures."

Federal authorities visited the prisons and informed staff that the surgeries were against the rules.

"And put steps in to ensure that in the future, none of the procedures would take place unless it was absolutely medically necessary and in addition it had to be signed off by somebody in the headquarters that was the treating clinician," said Hayhoe.

Hayhoe also said the doctors involved claimed they didn't know tubal ligations were against the rules.

"What we found is that our clinicians were uninformed of the regulation that was put in place to make sure that only medically necessary procedures were available to inmates," said Hayhoe.

She said he office has not received any requests for tubal ligations since the prisons were made aware. But there have been requests for other sterilization procedures.

"There have been a few requests for hysterectomies," said Hayhoe. "We have looked at those requests to determine whether they were absolutely medically necessary and have determined that they were not."

Federal regulators said they believe the tubal ligations stopped back in 2011 but they are watching to make sure they don't start up again.

 

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