To recognize survivors of this dark history, state Sen. Nancy Skinner introduced the Forced Sterilization Compensation Act (SB 1190) earlier this year. The bill, which passed the Senate and now sits in an appropriations committee in the Assembly, would create a state-funded program to identify and compensate men and women who had their reproductive autonomy taken away from them by the state. Similar restitution programs were created in North Carolina and Virginia in 2013 and 2015, respectively. (Surviving victims in North Carolina are eligible for $50,000, while those in Virginia may receive $25,000.)“For 70 years California sterilized individuals the State deemed unfit to have children,” Skinner said in a statement. “With this program, we can shed light on something that should never have happened, and offer some small solace to the people affected.”
"She always felt that no one ever wanted to be with her because she couldn't have children."
One such patient is the subject of a 1938 letter written by the medical director of the Sonoma State House, asking a state government official for permission to sterilize a Latina girl because her father had refused to give his consent.“She has been known to the Probation Officer since 1936,” the document states, redacting the girl’s name. “She has been sexually wayward and in the Detention Home because of recent thefts and also she admitted having gone to a hotel with a young man with whom she admitted sexual relations.”The letter ends with a simple question that hardly reflects the magnitude of what’s being asked of the state: “Will you kindly let us have your consent?”
“Their stories are yet to be told in many ways and we hope to hear them."