California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed a state budget allowing $7.5 million to be placed aside for victims of forced sterilization sanctioned by the state, ABC 7 reported. This will allow those forced to undergo sterilization under California’s former eugenics laws and those who’ve been sterilized in California state prisons to receive reparations for the experience and lasting effects.
California apparently has a twisted past involving involuntary sterilizations, with the state previously forcing many to undergo the procedure due to eugenics laws, which were followed from 1909 until 1979, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners reported. According to ABC 7, approximately 20,000 people were involuntarily sterilized in the 70-year timeframe.
California will pay reparations to survivors of state-sanctioned forced, involuntary sterilizations https://t.co/rx2oAXyZ1y
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) July 14, 2021
State prisoners have also been subjected to forced sterilizations, with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners reporting that “although the State repealed its eugenics law in 1979, coerced and forced sterilizations continued in State prisons into the 2010’s.”
The coalition also claimed that a previous state audit revealed a majority of Black and Latinx women, who were imprisoned at the time, were “illegally sterilized” while in the process of giving birth.
North Carolina also recently had to reckon with their former eugenics laws, which were first passed in 1929. For years, the Eugenics Board of North Carolina decided that many disabled, unwed women, poor and Black people should be prevented from having their own offspring, resulting in thousands of people being sterilized in the state, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. In one case, a 10-year-old boy was reportedly castrated.
A recent paper revealed that many of the nearly 8,000 sterilization victims in North Carolina were Black, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. The Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation was started in 2010 in order to pay reparations to the state’s survivors.
“Once I started to realize how many others were affected, I became passionate about making sure this doesn’t continue to happen to other people.” – Kelli Dillon, #BellyoftheBeast pic.twitter.com/M0pWErWT24
— Belly of the Beast (@BOTBFilm) June 23, 2021
Kelli Dillon, a Black female victim of forced sterilization in a California prison, has been outspoken about her experience and had her story featured in the 2020 documentary Belly of The Beast. She was sterilized in 2001, and didn’t even realize that she had undergone the particular procedure until later, according to the Guardian.
The outlet reported that Dillon, who was reportedly released from prison in 2009, commented about her deep-rooted experience, “It was like my life wasn’t worth anything. Somebody felt I had nothing to contribute to the point where they had to find this sneaky and diabolical way to take my ability to have children.”