Documentary

Belly of the Beast

A new documentary explores forced sterilizations in California's women's prisons.

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When you hear the word eugenics, you may be more likely to think of Nazi Germany than California. But the former studied the latter's sterilization practices to hone its approach. And while Germany's program died with the Nazi regime, California's has lasted much longer.

To see it at work, watch Belly of the Beast, a documentary exploring forced sterilizations in the state's women's prisons. The film follows Kelli Dillon, who spent 15 years in the Central California Women's Facility for killing her abusive husband. While she was behind bars, her uterus was removed against her will.

In 2006, Dillon sued the government after experiencing menopause at the ripe age of 24. Along the way, she and her legal team received reports from other prisoners who were forcibly sterilized while giving birth or undergoing unrelated surgeries.

Dillon lost her suit. But years later, in 2014, she testified in support of a California bill to ban sterilizations as a form of birth control; that time she succeeded. It's up to the viewer to decide if she won the larger war. "As to whether I think it should be illegal," says one anonymous prison nurse shrouded in darkness, "not necessarily."

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  1. When you hear the word eugenics, you may be more likely to think of Nazi Germany than California.

    Or Margaret Sanger.

    1. Yup. Takes a lot of balls to stroll right past the mountain range of aborted black fetuses, large crowds of castrated men, and point to a small pile of uteruses and say “Eugenics!”.

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  2. What’s that old saying about insanity being repeating the same action and expecting different results?

    It’s what government does best. They never run out of politicians trying to expand government.

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  3. Did they force sterilization on male inmates as well or is California just massively misogynistic?

    Probably just trying to prevent an ‘all the warden’s children’ type of scandal.

    1. women in prison should not be allowed to get pregnant.

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    2. Did they force sterilization on male inmates as well or is California just massively misogynistic?

      Same old story, they chemically castrate men as overt policy at a fantastically higher rate both during and after incarceration, but if they potentially/incidentally render a woman unable to have more children because she conceived and/or gave birth behind bars or had a problem with her reproductive organs and didn’t receive 5-star, top-dollar medical treatment? That’s an unforgiveable crime against humanity.

  4. This is just logical…prisoners, mentally incapable folks, violent people…should be sterilized

    1. Ouch, I cut myself in that edge.

  5. For a woman who kills an abusive husband, 15 years behind bars is much too long.

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