Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo Leads Initiative to Find and Compensate Survivors of Unknown/Forced Sterilization at LA County General Hospital

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Wendy Carrillo (AD-52)

LOS ANGELES (March 17, 2023) — Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) announced the launch of a major state initiative to find and compensate survivors of unknown or forced sterilization at LA County General Hospital, ushering in a major step in rectifying one of the worst injustices in California’s history. Since taking office in December of 2017, Assemblywoman wrote several policy proposals, including AB 1007 (2021) which began the process to create the California Forced or Involuntary Sterilized Compensation Program. The program was eventually created through the 2021-2022 budget process and included $7.8 million for an awareness campaign and compensation to survivors of forced or involuntary sterilization at state-run institutions, like state hospitals and prisons.

Due to lack of research and information, the program did not include the survivors of unknown sterilization that occurred between the late 1960’s to early 1970’s at Los Angeles County General Hospital. In light of this injustice, Assemblywoman Carrillo championed an additional investment of $300,000 for the Alliance for a Better Community, to research these eugenics practices and the impact it had on the mostly Spanish speaking, immigrant women who gave birth at LA County General Hospital and were sterilized without consent. The goal is to find them and include them in the program.

“Defending a woman’s right to choose is a fundamental value that includes the right to decide to become a parent,” said Assemblywoman Carrillo. “Despite not being a state-run facility, LA County General Hospital followed what were then California’s eugenics principals, which gave medical personnel the power to decide whether individuals could reproduce. The reprehensible practices left an indelible mark on the lives of countless women, permanently depriving them of their right to have children, and depriving them of their autonomy over their own bodies. The 2015 documentary, No Mas Bebes, brings to light the heart-wrenching stories of these women. It is a powerful reminder of the grave injustices that can be committed when the state fails to protect its citizens. As California finally sets out to rectify these wrongs, it is essential that we ensure that all necessary steps are being taken to find and compensate survivors.”

Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) announced the launch of a major state initiative to find and compensate survivors of unknown or forced sterilization at LA County General Hospital

  

“The disproportionate effect this had on women of color, and specifically Latinas, must be acknowledged, and it is imperative that California spares no effort in finding every living survivor. Recognizing that finding and providing compensation will never make them whole, it is the first step in addressing the wrongs that have been inflicted upon them. I am proud to mark this as a significant milestone, as California continues to lead by example on reproductive justice.”

The state of California's history with eugenics is a dark and shameful one, marked by systemic racism and discrimination against marginalized communities. From 1909 through 1979, under state eugenics laws, thousands of women who used the services of state-run hospitals, homes, and institutions in California were victims of forced or involuntary sterilization. This practice continued until 2010 at state prisons, mostly affecting women of color. California’s eugenics movement was so egregious that it was used as a blueprint by Nazi Germany World War II.

In 1975, there was a civil rights lawsuit, Madrigal v. Quilligan brought against the LA County General Hospital for forced or unknown sterilization, which argued that a woman’s right to have children was protected under the Supreme Court decision in Roe v.Wade. Through research and increased outreach to victims of LA County General Hospital, now named LAC+USC Medical Center, the budget allocation aims to ensure that California takes every step to reach survivors and pay them their long overdue acknowledgement and compensation.

“Creating an equitable and comprehensive healthcare system is imperative, and this includes recognizing and addressing the forced sterilizations on predominantly women and people of color endured at LAC+USC Medical Center with a significant proportion of victims being Latinx.” said LAC+USC Medical Center CEO Jorge Orozco. “Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo's leadership in establishing a task force to examine the devastating effects of forced sterilization in Los Angeles County is commendable. While financial reparations cannot fully account for the immense suffering endured by these women, it can help alleviate any financial burdens they may face.”

“I am confident that the collaboration between Los Angeles County and the State will result in meaningful reparations for the women who were impacted by forced sterilizations at the historic General Hospital,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. “This will by no means make up for the terrible atrocities that were committed against them, but it is a step in the right direction. Please know that we are committed to making this right, however, we can.”

“We are thankful for Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo’s prioritization and leadership in launching the Forced and Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Task Force. It is a critical step toward recognizing the atrocities committed against our already marginalized communities by addressing the generational impacts of racist policies on families,” said Alliance for a Better Community Executive Director Vanessa Aramayo. “By providing compensation and acknowledging this cruelty, California attempts to atone for unfathomable harm and ensure that such violations of bodily autonomy never happen again. Alliance for a Better Community is proud to collaborate with Assemblywoman Carrillo as we stand in solidarity with survivors.”                                                      

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Assemblywoman Carrillo was elected to serve in the State Assembly in December 2017. She represents the 52nd Assembly District, which includes the City of Los Angeles and South Glendale. She serves as the Chair of the Budget Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration, in addition to the Assembly Committees on Appropriations, Health, Housing and Community Development, Utilities and Energy, Budget Subcommittee No. 6 on Budget Process, Oversight and Program Evaluation, and the Joint Committees on Legislative Budget, and Climate Change Policies. She also serves as the Chair of the Select Committee on Latina Inequities, Vice Chair of the Legislative Progressive Caucus, as a Commissioner for the California Film Commission and serves on the California Cultural and Historical Endowment Board.