The bill unanimously passed the assembly health committee on
Tuesday as lawmakers scrambled to respond to the audit, which showed
that errors were made in obtaining informed consent from 39 women
inmates who had their fallopian tubes tied while incarcerated
between 2005 and 2011.
“This bill is absolutely essential to make sure that women are not
coerced into procedures they don’t want and truly informed about
risks and side effects should they be deemed necessary,” said state
senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who introduced the measure and
commissioned the audit in February, after the investigative
non-profit Center for Investigative Reporting published a story on
Prison rules make tubal ligation available to inmates as part of
regular obstetrical care. But until the issue was brought to
officials’ attention in 2010 by an inmates rights group, proper
authorization for the procedure was rarely obtained, the state
auditor’s report said.
The report by the California State Auditor showed that of 144 tubal
ligations performed between 2005 and 2011, errors were made in
obtaining informed consent in 39 cases.
In 27 of those cases, a physician failed to sign the consent form as
required, the audit showed. In 18 cases, there were potential
violations of a mandated waiting period after women gave consent. In
all but one of the cases, auditors said, there were issues with the
way the procedures were authorized.
The audit was the latest blow
to the state's troubled prison system and came as California is
struggling to meet court-ordered demands to improve medical and
mental healthcare in its overcrowded prisons.
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Medical care in the state's prisons were placed under the control of
a court-ordered receivership in 2006.
The current receiver, J. Clark Kelso, was appointed in 2008, but did
not learn about problems with tubal ligations until 2010, when the
prison rights group Justice Now brought it to his attention, the
Just one procedure was performed after the concerns were brought to
Kelso's attention, and it was deemed medically necessary, the audit
Kelso supports the legislation, which would ban sterilization of
inmates of either sex except in a medical emergency, a spokeswoman
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Ken Wills)
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