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Tenn. County Offers Prisoners Reduced Sentences for Sterilization

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In White County, Tennessee, convicted criminals can reduce their time in prison by voluntarily sterilizing themselves

On May 15, Judge Sam Benningfield signed an order that would give inmates 30 days off their sentence if they undergo a "birth control procedure." These "procedures" include a birth control implant (Nexplananon) for women or a vasectomy for men. The county says 32 women and 38 men have already signed up for the procedures. 

Judge Benningfield told local news media, "I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, to not be burdened with children. This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves." 

But what if inmates hope to become parents? Is that not "something?"

Even the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), usually a proponent of get-out-of-jail-free cards, thinks this order goes too far. The Tennessee branch of ACLU said in a press release on Wednesday: 

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. 

Wow. The ACLU is right when they say this goes against the "bodily integrity" of an individual. But, I would take it one step further: this is straight eugenics. Trying to prevent groups of people from reproducing because you do not think they are fit to have children is the very goal Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger wanted to achieve. 

It is a sad day when a judge in the United States treats prisoners as less than human. 

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