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Bishop Garcia Issues Statement on State Auditor Report on Sterilizations in California Prisons

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June 20, 2014

Bishop Richard Garcia of Monterey, Chairman of the Restorative Justice Committee of the California Catholic Conference, issued the following statement regarding the release of the California State Auditor's Report on the sterilization of female inmates in California without their consent:

"The State Auditor's report that as many as 30 percent of the women who underwent sterilization in state prison between 2005 and 2013 may have not given consent, is deeply disturbing. Procedures are in place to prevent such an affront to the dignity of these women, yet the Auditor found that they may not have been followed.

"This situation is another example of the pervasive problems with the delivery of health care in the state's prisons. The legal and legislative maneuvering that has characterized the system for the last several years has not been productive. In fact, cases like this indicate the problem may be growing.

"As Chairman of the Restorative Justice Committee, I urge the Governor, the California Legislature and the Court System to insure that adequate protections against such repugnant behavior as sterilizing a woman without her consent are both in place and being followed.

"We will continue to work with officials and lawmakers who, in good faith, are endeavoring to address the tremendous challenges in our California prisons."

The Catholic Church opposes sterilization surgeries for both men and women as an intrusion on bodily integrity and personal autonomy. It advises against sterilizations in all circumstances, but finds it particularly egregious and morally suspect if the surgery is performed without the full understanding and consent of the patient.