California sterilization survivors could get compensation

GARDENA, Calif .– For Watts native Kelli Dillon, there’s one thing an office must have: a fan.

“Me and the fan became friends at an early age,” Dillon said.

What would you like to know

  • From 1909 to 1979, the state of California forcibly sterilized over 20,000 women
  • Hundreds of other women were unwittingly or forcibly sterilized until the early 2000s while in mental health institutes and prisons
  • Most of those sterilized were poor women of color
  • AB 1007 would grant monetary compensation to living survivors of forced sterilizations

Dillon, now 45, went through menopause in her mid-20s after being sterilized.

“I don’t want to see what happened to me happen to another young woman, and it’s important to me,” she said.

Dillon was only 19 when she was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Once incarcerated, she went to see a doctor.

“When I entered this health service, which was the gynecologist, I was asked if I wanted to have a particular surgery, which would see if I had a type of cancer cell,” she said. .

Dillon agreed. She did not have cancer, and yet during this procedure, without knowing it, she was sterilized.

“When I found out that I had been sterilized, I felt so broken,” she said. “Someone felt that my life and the value of my life, the ability to have children, was not mine.”

Since finding out, Dillon has worked day in and day out, going to Capitol Hill and seeking justice for the approximately 244 living survivors of forced sterilizations in California jails and 383 living survivors of forced sterilization due to eugenic laws. As Dillon explained, justice may well be on the horizon.

For the third year in a row, Congresswoman Wendy Carrillo for the 51st District Assembly has introduced a bill, AB 1007, which attempts to correct what she says is a heinous wrong.

“We are working to create a compensation fund to identify and make initial reparations for women who have been unknowingly forced and sterilized in the state of California,” Carrillo said.

The goal, according to the MP, is to give each woman who has been forcibly sterilized $ 25,000 in compensation and to alert and inform women who may not know what has happened to them.

“Both the Senate and the Assembly had it in their budget, and now it’s moved forward, we’ve brought it in, and that’s what the legislature voted on, and that’s what is presented to the governor. now, ”Carrillo said.

Dillon is currently the Executive Director of Back 2 The Basics, an advocacy-focused non-profit organization.

“The most rewarding thing is that I have helped another young woman maybe make better choices for her life,” she said.

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