A judge in White County was recently reprimanded for implementing a standing order offering a 30-day reduction in jail time to male inmates who got vasectomies and female inmates who got birth control implants in their arms.
Starting on Tuesday, February 13, Tennessee legislators will begin taking up legislation that would prohibit tying criminal sentences to sterilization, even when defendants “voluntarily” agree to the procedure.
SB 2133/HB 2520, as introduced, would prohibit a sentencing court from making a sentencing determination based on a defendant’s consent or refusal to consent to any form of temporary or permanent birth control, sterilization, or family planning services, regardless of whether the defendant’s consent is “voluntarily” given.
SB 1638/HB 1554, as introduced, prohibits a court from accepting a plea agreement or imposing a sentence in a criminal case that is in whole or in part conditioned upon the defendant submitting to some form of sterilization, regardless of whether the defendant “voluntarily” consents to sterilization.
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.