SACRAMENTO (KCBS) — California lawmakers on Thursday approved an audit of the state’s prison health care system, after a recent investigative report revealed hundreds of female inmates were forcibly sterilized.

An investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting found that nearly 250 inmates were sterilized through tubal ligations. Many of the women said that they were coerced by prison staffers.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) called the findings revolting. “How it is that these were being taken, that doctors were performing them and they were being paid when they submitted for reimbursement?” she said.

The audit will look at prison inmate sterilizations between 2006 and 2010.

Cynthia Chandler, an attorney with Justice Now and a professor at the Golden Gate University School of Law believes the procedures were motivated by “cost efficacy” to save money on welfare spending for unwanted children.

“(It’s) people who might be seen as having pregnancies that will lead to children that would become dependent on the state,” she said.

Joyce Hayoe, the legislative director for California Correctional Health Care Services, said she welcomed the audit and that changes had already been implemented in 2010.

“A lot of our doctors unfortunately thought that it was a community standard and that they should be allowed to do that,” she said. “We absolutely put a stop to that.”

California has a history of forced sterilization of inmates dating back to the 1900s to the 1970s. The audit, which is on the fast track, is expected to take 7 to 8 months to complete.

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