In an effort to make sure those deemed “unworthy” of reproduction by the government do not reproduce, one Tennessee county is offering a reduced sentence to inmates who undergo sterilization.
Of course, this isn’t a news headline from 1933 out of East Berlin, Germany either. Tennessee inmates can receive upwards of 30 days cut from their jail sentences if they agree to get a vasectomy or insert a contraceptive device into their body. White County in rural Tennessee decided to start the program and it has faced backlash ever since.
The sterilization of inmates has been called into question by local district attorneys and the American Civil Liberties Union alike, not to mention rational Americans who understand human rights, CBS affiliate NewsChannel 5 reported.
“Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional,” the ACLU said in a statement. Although it may not be unconstitutional per se, as the government dictates what is or is not constitutional, it is an egregious violation of human rights; and one that would have made Adolf Hitler quite proud.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions judge signed this order and gave a poor excuse for its implementation. The order’s purpose was to discourage inmates with drug offenses and extensive criminal records from conceiving children that they cannot support, Judge Sam Benningfield said. “I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, to not to be burdened with children,” he told the station.
While it certainly is not mandatory, there’s only one small step from this program to forced vasectomies. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway said offering incentives that limit someone’s ability to have children is unethical and possibly illegal. “It’s comprehensible that an 18-year-old gets this done, it can’t get reversed and then that impacts the rest of their life,” he said.
As of Thursday, 38 men are waiting to undergo the vasectomy procedure and 32 women have received the contraceptive implant in exchange for shortened sentence. The ACLU also said in a statement:
Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional. Such a choice violates the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive autonomy and bodily integrity by interfering with the intimate decision of whether and when to have a child, imposing an intrusive medical procedure on individuals who are not in a position to reject it. Judges play an important role in our community – overseeing individuals’ childbearing capacity should not be part of that role. -ACLU-TN
Whether or not this is “constitutional” or not matters little to the government anymore. It is, without a doubt, a human rights violation.
*Article originally appeared at Activist Post.