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California’s Reparations Program for Survivors of Forced Sterilization Falls Short As Deadline Nears

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 (Illustration by Anna Vignet)

California’s use of forced sterilizations represents a dark chapter in the state’s history. Up until the 1970s, state hospitals and institutions implemented a eugenics program as a way to decrease specific demographic groups including Latinos, Blacks and Native Americans. In more recent decades, California prisons performed procedures—without patient consent — that left hundreds of women unable to have children. Now, the clock is ticking for survivors to apply for compensation from a $4.5 million fund the state established in 2021. As the Dec. 31 deadline looms, relatively few survivors have applied and the state has rejected most of them. We’ll talk about survivors’ experiences, why they aren’t receiving compensation, and hear from advocates on what should happen next.

More information on how to apply for compensation for involuntary sterilization can be found at the California Victim Compensation Board website. Applications are available in English and Spanish.Anyone needing assistance with the application can call the compensation board’s toll-free helpline at 1-800-777-9229 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.


Jennifer James, PhD, MSW, MSSP, associate professor of Institute for Health & Aging, Department of Social & Behavioral Sciences, and UCSF Bioethics, University of California, San Francisco; member, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners - She has assisted forced sterilization survivors with their applications for reparations

Cayla Mihalovich, student, UC Berkeley School of Journalism Investigative Reporting Program - Wrote an article about California's reparations program for forced sterilizations for KQED

Moonlight Pulido, recipient, the California Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program

Sydney Johnson, reporter, KQED News

Sharon Fennix, her application for the California Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program was rejected


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