Revoke Licenses of Doctors Guilty of Sterilizing Inmates Without Consent


Target: Sharon Levine, M.D., President of California State Medical Board

Goal: Revoke the licenses of two former doctors at Valley State Penitentiary for coercing female inmates into unnecessary sterilization surgery

Two former doctors at Valley State Penitentiary in Chowchilla, California, have admitted to coercing female inmates into receiving unnecessary sterilization surgeries. In addition, these surgeries were performed without obtaining the necessary approval from state medical authorities. Dr. James Heinrich and Dr. Duan Martin admitted to “recommending inmates go under the knife by way of citing the surgery a medical emergency.” Both doctors claimed that the restrictions keeping inmates from sterilization surgeries were “unfair.” International news agency RT reports that The Center for Investigative Reporting has obtained documents stating that the “California Prison Health Care Receivership Corp was aware of  the sterilizations, although they were not authorized.”

The surgery, known as a tubal ligation, has required the signatures of medical officials from the state capital for “each and every instance” since 1994. However, physicians contracted by the state earned thousands of dollars in local funds to perform tubal ligations on female inmates at Chowchilla from 1997-2010. Essentially, female inmates were coerced into unnecessary sterilization surgery in order to line the pockets of state-contracted physicians. Former Valley State OB-GYN James Heinrich, in a statement to the Center For Investigative Reporting, claimed that the sterilization surgeries saved the state money since the cost of the surgeries and the contracted physician payments were less  the cost of than “welfare paying for these unwanted children – as they procreated more.”

Dr. Heinrich has been accused of singling out inmates who had been pregnant multiple times for sterilization, insinuating that they were “bad mothers” if they initially refused to undergo the surgery. Dr. Heinrich was in a position of authority and power over these women, and he abused this position by playing God with their reproductive systems. Furthermore, he violated several state laws by fabricating “medical emergencies” for his victims in order to perform these unnecessary surgeries and by bypassing the requisite authorization by medical authorities. Former Valley State Medical Manager Dr. Duan Martin acted as Heinrich’s henchwoman by advising him how to document these false “emergencies.” This is both a heinous violation of human rights and an egregious misuse of state monies. Dr. Duan Martin and Dr. James Heinrich allowed their odious social-engineering agenda to replace their duty of care. Tell the California Medical Board to revoke their licenses.


Dear Dr. Sharon Levine,

The Center For Investigative Journalism has obtained documents revealing that hundreds of female inmates at Valley State Penitentiary were coerced into undergoing unnecessary sterilization surgery from 1997-2010. Former Valley State OB-GYN James Heinrich and former Valley State medical manager Duan Martin have admitted to falsely documenting “medical emergencies” requiring tubal litigation on the charts of female inmates who had experienced multiple pregnancies. Furthermore, state-funded physicians received thousands of dollars for performing these surgeries, with full knowledge that proper authorization was not received. This is a violation of medical ethics. One former Valley State inmate stated that Dr. Martin and Dr. Heinrich considered inmates with multiple children as “animals” whom “they did not want to breed anymore.” Another accused Dr. Henrich of insinuating that she was a “bad mother” for refusing to undergo the surgery.

Every woman, whether incarcerated or not, deserves to have autonomy over her reproductive system. Dr. James Heinrich and Dr. Duan Martin have violated the Hippocratic Oath of “first do no harm.” Inmates, no matter what their crime, do not deserve medical malpractice for the sake of two doctors’ misguided and atrocious ideologies. The Board must revoke the licenses of Drs. Henrich and Martin, and they must revoke the licenses of every single physician who accepted unauthorized funds to perform unauthorized surgeries. Medical authority must not be misused in order to play at eugenics.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Saltanat via Wikimedia Commons

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