Materials for Policymakers.
The Social Justice and Sterilization Lab supports efforts to provide reparations to surviving individuals who were involuntarily sterilized under U.S. eugenics laws. Three states officially compensated survivors of eugenic sterilization laws: North Carolina (2013), Virginia (2015), and California (2021). California is also the first state to both notify and compensate those sterilized involuntarily in state women's prisons.
Calls for Reparations
Research and Demographics
Erin McCormick. "Survivors of California's Forced Sterilizations: 'It's like my life wasn't worth anything.'" The Guardian. 19 July 2021.
James Felton. "California to Pay Millions in Compensation to Victims of Its Forced Sterilization Program." IFLScience. 15 July 2021.
Emily Galpern. "Victory for Reproductive Justice in California: New Budget Includes Reparations for Survivors of Eugenic Sterilization." Biopolitical Times. 13 July 2021.
Daniel Trotta. "California to Compensate People Forcibly Sterilized Under Eugenics." Reuters. 13 July 2021.
Amanda Morris. "'You Just Feel Like Nothing': California to Pay Sterilization Victims." New York Times. 11 July 2021.
AirTalk. "Some State Sterilization Survivors Will Be Eligible for Reparations, But Who Gets Them and How Will They Be Found?" KPCC. 8 July 2021.
Susy Chávez. "California Approves $7.5 Million Budget Request to Provide Reparations to Survivors of State Sponsored Forced Sterilizations." California Latinas for Reproductive Justice. July 2021.
Anabel Munoz. "Bill seeking reparations for involuntary, forced sterilizations survivors closer to becoming CA law." ABC 7. 21 May 2021.
Citlali Pizarro. "Survivors of Forced Sterilizations in California Fight a Century of Violence in Women's Prisons." Shadowproof. 12 May 2021.
Sheila Kuehl. "County Apologizes for Forced Sterilizations 1968–1974." Sheila Kuehl Los Angeles County Supervisor. 7 August 2018.
Times Editorial Board. "Let's Compensate Victims of California's Forced Sterilization Program — Quickly, before They Die." Los Angeles Times. 18 May 2018.
Alexandra Minna Stern, Nicole L. Novak, Natalie Lira, Kate E. O’Connor, Siobán D. Harlow, and Sharon L. R. Kardia. "California’s Sterilization Survivors: An Estimate and Call for Redress." American Journal of Public Health 107, No. 1. January 2017. 50–54.
SSJ Lab California Sterilization Survivor Demographics in Detail, 2020
Supporting Reproductive Justice in CA
Since 2017, the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab's research has informed efforts, led by advocacy organizations, to provide reparations and recognition to survivors of California's eugenic sterilization laws from 1909–1979 and survivors of involuntary sterilizations in women's state prisons after 1979. After four annual attempts, a bill passed in 2021, which will compensate approximately $25,000 per survivor, and will support the development of plaques and markers that raise awareness and acknowledge this history.
The lead author of the bill was Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, and it was co-sponsored by the Back to the Basics Community Empowerment (BDB), Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), California Latinas for Reproductive Justice (CLRJ), and California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), in collaboration with the Sterilization and Social Justice Lab and with contributions from the Belly of the Beast film team. The SSJL is the source for demographic information and contextual historical research to identify survivors from the historic era.
From 1909 to 1979, more than 20,000 people (approximately one-third of all state-sanctioned sterilizations in the United States) at mental health institutions and hospitals were sterilized under California's eugenic laws. This legislation disproportionately targeted Latinas and people of color. While California issued an apology in 2003 for these abuses, no specific redress for survivors was available until now. The SSJL is gratified that this bill will provide long-awaited compensation to survivors of involuntary sterilization in California, and will continue to inform this process and to highlight links between past and present experiences of reproductive injustice.