According to a recent report released by the California State Auditor on Thursday, nearly 40 female prison inmates in California were sterilized illegally.
Of the 144 inmates who underwent tubal ligations between 2005 and 2013, one-third were performed without lawful consent.
In 27 cases, the inmate’s physician — the person who would perform the procedure in a hospital or an alternate physician — did not sign the required consent form asserting that the patient appeared mentally competent and understood the lasting effects of the procedure and that the required waiting period had been satisfied.
In some cases, physicians falsified the consent forms, indicating the proper waiting period had passed when it clearly 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.
Auditors have pushed for federal officials to release names of the physicians involved in the illegal surgeries to the Medical Board and the California Department of Public Health for further investigation.
The audit was requested by members of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus in response to an investigation by The Center for Investigative Reporting in August.
The investigation, published in July, found that 132 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules from 2006 to 2010.
In a written response to the audit, the state prison health department generally agreed with the findings but noted that it has taken steps to improve.
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