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Johnson writes: "On a lazy Sunday in March 2012, I was headed out to run errands when CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 turned to a broadcast called 'Eugenics in America.' The report recounted the sad history of minorities, prisoners, the poor and the disabled being forcibly sterilized during the early 20th century."

Despite laws against them, forced sterilization continued in California until 2010. (photo: Young Turks)
Despite laws against them, forced sterilization continued in California until 2010. (photo: Young Turks)


California Was Sterilizing Its Female Prisoners As Late As 2010

By Corey Johnson, Guardian UK

09 November 13

 

 

California banned force sterilizations in 1979, but as recently as 2010, female inmates in the state were getting the procedure

n a lazy Sunday in March 2012, I was headed out to run errands when CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 turned to a broadcast called "Eugenics in America". The report recounted the sad history of minorities, prisoners, the poor and the disabled being forcibly sterilized during the early 20th century.

No news there, right? Yet, I was taken aback when the piece focused on California's role. I never knew the Golden State led the nation with nearly 20,000 sterilizations. Nor did I know that Nazi Germany consulted with California's eugenics leaders in the 1930s. I also was surprised that CNN's reporter was unable to get lawmakers in Sacramento to talk about this.

I set out to learn more. Were there any living victims? If so, how many and how could I find them?

Coincidentally, soon afterward, I received a tip that sterilizations may have occurred in California's women's prisons as recently as 2010. The assertion shocked me. It sounded outlandish.

By then, I knew that California lawmakers had banned forced sterilizations in 1979. Since 1994, elective sterilizations have required approval from top medical officials in Sacramento on a case-by-case basis. Had that happened in these cases?

I sought out the prisoner rights organization Justice Now and traveled to its Oakland office. Advocates showed me state spreadsheets indicating contract doctors were reimbursed for performing tubal ligations on inmates. The group's data was incomplete. It lacked the amounts paid. And there was no information on who was sterilized or whether the procedures were approved at headquarters. But at a minimum, the documents showed that the tip wasn't as off base as it first appeared.

The missing information foreshadowed the difficulties that would come in the months ahead as I sought to fill in the blanks. Intense secrecy governs these surgeries. Strict state and federal laws protect patient privacy. Prison attorneys fought to deny access to key documents and records, including those not medically related. Also, inmates who have been sterilized are reluctant to talk about it for many reasons - some of which stem from shame and trauma from the surgery.

Still, I crisscrossed the state seeking and meeting people who could help break the silence. Over time, I obtained a more complete spreadsheet of tubal ligation procedures and costs. Prison officials talked to me both on the record and off. So did former and current inmates. A few medical records trickled in as well.

Highlights from the first story that The Center for Investigative Reporting published 7 July (which I authored) show the results, including:

• Doctors under contract with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sterilized nearly 150 female inmates from 2006 to 2010 without required state approvals - and there were perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s.

• Former inmates and prisoner advocates say prison medical staff coerced the women into agreeing to the surgeries, targeting those deemed likely to return to prison in the future.

• From 1997 to 2010, the state paid doctors $147,460 to perform tubal ligations, according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners.

• A prison administrator acknowledged that she tried to find workarounds, and the prison's ob-gyn defended the expenditure, saying:

Over a 10-year period, that isn't a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for these unwanted children - as they procreated more.

• One former inmate, who gave birth to a son in October 2006, said she repeatedly was pressured to agree to a tubal ligation, including while at the hospital under sedation for her C-section. "He said, 'So we're going to be doing this tubal ligation, right?' " she said. "I'm like, 'Tubal ligation? What are you talking about? I don't want any procedure. I just want to have my baby.' I went into a straight panic."

The story went viral on social media. News organizations and bloggers nationally and internationally circulated the piece, prompting intense debate. Lawmakers immediately denounced the sterilizations, which appear to have ended in 2010, and demanded answers. So far, two hearings have been held. A state audit was ordered and fast-tracked to determine what happened and who knew what when. And, of course, our investigative journalism work continues.


 

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-57 # ormondotvos 2013-11-09 12:11
Odd you don't make the case against elective tubal ligations.

Sounds like a good cost-benefit ration to me.
 
 
-60 # brux 2013-11-09 13:19
Ha, around here that makes far too much sense ... one of the alternate ways of looking at America is not so much in terms of the rich taking everything, although that is happening to an extent, but to he explosion in non-productive misfit people. Give them welfare and make life easy for the irresponsible and criminal element and they breed like rats. That's simply what happened. We have to take off our politically correct blinders and solve a problem ,,, humanely ... but humane does not mean breed a majority of nonproductive criminal types.
 
 
+8 # David Starr 2013-11-10 13:43
@brux: Who specifically are these "criminal types?"

All I can see regarding "criminal types" are the rich WANTING to take as much as they can, stealing U.S. taxpayers' money, e.g., funneling millions of dollars into tax-free, offshore accounts.

Ethically-speaking, who really are the misfits, rats, irresponsible criminals, and welfare cheats? Those in a government/corp orate, "unholy alliance," to steal, when it comes down to it.

I think the priority should be focusing on those with corporate/gover nment power. They are the bigger threat.
 
 
+2 # Salus Populi 2013-11-11 15:41
Amen to that. And they should be forcibly sterilized, so that they cannot bring more greedster progeny into the world. Your "average" American uses fifteen times the resources during his or her lifetime as a person born in third world countries.

Now imagine how much more in the way of wasted resources a typical villainaire parasite uses. It's off the scale. And it's not as if these plutocrats are contributing productively to society; less than two (2) per cent of the filthy rich are entrepreneurs, with the vast majority having made their money the old fashioned ways: They either inherited it or, in the case of the fraudsters on the Street, they stole it from the 99 per cent through various scams and schemes.

If you sterilized everyone with over a million dollars, in two generations the vast and unprecedented theft of resources that is now taking place would end and be reversed.
 
 
-38 # Above God 2013-11-09 12:50
What Are These All Imaculate Conceptions? Don.t These Bastards Have A Father? No One Ever Heard Of Child Support? Wha BS!
 
 
-23 # shraeve 2013-11-09 13:12
What do you expect from a fascist police state like Caliphonya?
 
 
+36 # Glen 2013-11-09 14:06
It wasn't just California pursuing Nazi methods. The fact that this happens in the U.S. at all is abhorrent, but nothing is coming as a surprise any longer.

Torture, drones, bunker busters, sterilization, illegal searches, surveillance, and on and on - only in America. OK, maybe not the surveillance part due to there being hundreds of cameras throughout London.

The U.S. has always derided countries such as China for enforcing limited population - well, now the U.S. has been revealed to be worse.
 
 
+62 # nancyw 2013-11-09 13:15
Disgusting, and once again, the onus is on women to control birth. What is it about forcing women to be the sole responsible parties as if men have nothing to do with procreation? And why aren't men forced to tie off their parts? Not that either gender should be forced/coerced into any of this.

Women... rise up! Men, support fairness and responsibility equally!
 
 
-25 # brux 2013-11-09 13:20
Baloney, the onus is not on the women, name the father and he will be forced to pay child support whether or not he wanted to have the child. i support women on almost every issue, but sometimes you get a bit overboard. These women should not be having kids if they cannot take care of themselves and stay out of prison.
 
 
-10 # Rain17 2013-11-09 14:04
You are correct about that. If they are in prison they shouldn't be having children.
 
 
-20 # brux 2013-11-09 17:02
You know that and I know that, but the weird people on RSN put some kind of priority on felons bearing children.
 
 
-2 # Rain17 2013-11-10 12:38
Well this is the type of thing that also alienates people from the left.
 
 
+22 # pbbrodie 2013-11-09 19:40
That is exactly the point, thank you.
How do you know which women will stay out of prison, reform, and live a crime free life and have children and which won't, not that I am agreeing that you have the right to sterilize anyone, regardless. What gives you the right to make decisions like this? Nothing, that's what.
Also, there are countless fathers in this country who don't pay a dime in child support. If you don't believe this, you live in some alternate universe of your own making.
Finally, once you start down this ever so slippery slope, where does it end? Once you give the state the right to make decisions such as this, where does it end? What would stop the state from doing a thing like give tests to inmates to determine how intelligent they are and sterilize them on that basis, and on and on? You need to think about what you are advocating and wake the f... up!
 
 
+25 # womyn 2013-11-09 20:56
Why aren't these unethical doctors and prison administrators
performing vasectomies on all the men in prison, especially the repeaters?
 
 
+2 # Pikewich 2013-11-11 18:54
Really great question.
 
 
+5 # kyzipster 2013-11-11 09:03
Looks like the Tea Party nuts have finally infiltrated RSN.
 
 
-19 # Underledge 2013-11-09 14:10
You automatically assume the woman even knows who the father is.
 
 
+23 # womyn 2013-11-09 20:54
Well done! Men should be responsible for impregnating women!

Men should keep their zippers zipped and their mouths shut regarding women's reproductive rights.
 
 
+25 # David Starr 2013-11-09 13:26
The United States has allowed sterilization in the state of California for decades? Wonder what "pro-lifers" think about this.

China, then, should not be condemned for its child policy since, unlike the secrecy in CA, USA, China publically announced the policy based on actual projections of future population growth compared with the potential amount of resources available.

And a Pew research poll concluded that 76% of the Chinese population supported it. And, the policy is being wound down to where it will no longer exist.

So, we have an example of sterilization done secretly based on Eugenics, compared with a policy publically announced to curb overpopulation, and where 76% of the population support.

If it came down to necessarily curb overpopulation, which would be the most ethical? (Although China's policy has, to a degree anyway, been "infected" by unethical means.)
 
 
+4 # brux 2013-11-09 13:31
The whole planet better start realizing that there are limited resources and every added person needs to account for some of these resources ... and they are already getting scarce to the point that in the traditional economy the average person is soon not going to be able to care for themself.

It's simple not fair to anyone for people who do not have the time, resources or knowledge to have children that for generations will be a drain on the world.
 
 
+2 # Salus Populi 2013-11-11 16:16
As I noted above, there is an enormous difference in use of resources by the addition of one child in the Western industrialized countries and in the rest of the world. A study by the UN in the mid-nineties, the latest [and only] one of which I am aware, found that the strings attached to our so-called "foreign aid" to the African sub-continent worked out to the equivalent of *their* sending *us* 700 billion dollars over the period from the early sixties to the time of the report.

We used to keep our middle class fat and happy by essentially stealing the resources of everybody else. As the rate of profit began to shrink after the mid-seventies, the Greedy Old Plutocrats turned to immiserating all the rest of us here in the U.S. (and to a lesser degree in Europe), so they could maintain their super-self-indu lgent lifestyles.

Sterilizing the poor will have little effect on the use of resources by the human race; but it will certainly be a good first step on the road to out-and-out fascism.
 
 
-1 # brux 2013-11-12 12:35
You don't have any numbers there, and one kid as you say if you fast forward into the future can be hundreds. If they are criminals they do affect other people. Look at the hundreds of kids born in the ghettos that are shooting each other now that did not exist a few generations ago - nor did those ghettos. If you are going to think about a problem, bring your brain to bear on it, do not just imagine what you think you want.
 
 
-7 # brux 2013-11-09 13:36
There are problems whichever way you look at the population issue ... but not looking at it and doing nothing are bad alternatives.

I don't have a problem with sterilizing prisoners - if there is no 1-child policy. If there is a one-child policy, what about those people that are really good parents ... shouldn't they be allowed to use their expertise and pass it down.

Humanity is losing its humanity because we foolishly squander, disregard and fail to understand what we do right.

I think taxing people that have a lot of child is a good idea, and allowing parents such domineering control over their kids should be disallowed. Children benefit from having many people in their lives, not just their parents, but especially if their parents are bad at it.
 
 
+3 # USA2012??? 2013-11-09 19:26
Quoting brux:
The whole planet better start realizing that there are limited resources and every added person needs to account for some of these resources ... and they are already getting scarce to the point that in the traditional economy the average person is soon not going to be able to care for themself.

It's simple not fair to anyone for people who do not have the time, resources or knowledge to have children that for generations will be a drain on the world.


Brux: don't worry about it, because it's being taken care of on a grand scale. Conversely, you might be a little alarmed to find out that you may go along with everyone else who breathes the air addressing the problem of over population.

Go outside, look up on most days, look at the streaks in the sky, and ask yourself: "What in the heck is all of that stuff?"
Hopefully your curiosity will encourage you to look up the word "CHEMTRAIL" and read brother read: there's unlimited information about this phenomena.

Like I said don't worry about it: population control is being and has been addressed for decades: educate yourself my fellow victim!
 
 
0 # brux 2013-11-12 12:33
I've never found living in a fantasy world to be something I am interested in doing.
 
 
+2 # David Starr 2013-11-11 11:37
@brux: Sterilizing prisoners en masse would be a criminal act if, say, a prisoner is exonerated by DNA evidence.

A 1-child policy doesn't prevent the passing down of genetic influence, whether positive and/or negative since we are dealing with a population, i.e., sheer numbers. And China, of course, has the world's biggest population.
 
 
0 # brux 2013-11-12 12:32
That's a good point I can agree with, but I am in favor of something being done rather than wringing our hands and all dying when the food system and planet ultimately break down. Mistakes are made in anything. Some sterilizations are reversible anyway. You behave as if you think it is a great idea to swamp normal productive people with criminals kids that grow up to be criminals. Check out Werner Herzog's movie on the death penalty, "Into The Abyss" and you can see how one criminal having children that do not get good parenting leads to more criminals and more crimes.
 
 
0 # David Starr 2013-11-13 15:45
@brux: Are you involved in some kind of activism to help tackle the problem?

Your sterilization idea would then have to be used against the economic parasites of the 1% I mentioned earlier. But, there is obviously a big ethical problem here.

Irreversible? Are you for real?

I'm currently reading a book entitled, "Anatomy of Violence." But at this moment, I can only remember the author's last name - Raine.

Interesting study on what makes individuals violent, dealing with genetic, defective and environmental factors.

But they don't offer sterilization as the final solution.
 
 
+12 # Glen 2013-11-09 14:22
The young people I met in China were comfortable with the restrictions on birth. A number of them decided against having children at all - voluntarily. Those in rural areas were not as educated or aware of the country or the world at large, so didn't get the drift of the intent to preserve the country with fewer births. That is very different from forcing tubal ligations or worse with involuntary victims.

Prisons render all there, victims of the system and if that system is perverted, those prisoners being sterilized are also victims of sadism.
 
 
+27 # L H 2013-11-09 14:59
Men don't seem too protective of women's bodies! Why the agreement for tubal ligation for women? This is surgery! If you are so concerned about population growth, sterilizing men is a lot less invasive, quicker, cheaper, easier.

Where is the call for castration for men when they are found guilty of rape? Men have stronger sexual "needs" than women, so who is more responsible? Every registered sex offender should be castrated, right? Are they?

Population explosion and the "danger cries" of population growth were intentionally created as a way to manipulate the people of the world under control. You must see the movie, "THRIVE".

Yes, we have increased population, but this planet can feed all the people easily. Problems arise from corporate destruction of resources, and the oil and gas industries polluting which includes the giant Agri-businesses using synthetic petroleum fertilizers and monocropping which destroys bio-diversity and kills the soil.

It is the corporate take-over of our government, the Public-Private- Partnerships, and the power of corporations that destroy the worlds' natural resources. This is the threat to life on this planet, not women getting pregnant!

"Population Explosion" by Paul R. Ehrlich started the myth and fear of not having enough food and 'too many people'. Paul Ehrlich is also the man who said, "I don't want more people to vote! The less people who vote, the more we win!"

Are you going to believe him?
 
 
-6 # kevenwood 2013-11-09 15:07
First, there is little in the way of compelling information here. Perhaps the story may be the tip of something bigger, or there is a real chance there isn't much supportive information because there isn't much to the story. Typically, a story like this will have a journalist documenting dozens or hundreds of recent testimonials. I see none of that here, nor referenced.

And just because you have shown that somebody gets paid to do a procedure means very little.

There's only one testimonial (from 2006, not 2010) at the end and, to me, seems pretty weak. She felt "pressured". Hmmm, now that's different from "forced", which would be a "real" story. Show me some actual victims!

The same lady said she "repeatedly" felt pressured. Here's my question: Did she feel repeatedly pressured before one birth, or did she "repeatedly" get pregnant while in prison, so the staff suggested she consider ending the circus of numerous pregnancies of children she obviously had no means or ability to raise.

Indeed, "forced" sterility is wrong. Hardly anyone debates that. But suggested sterility for long-term prison inmates sounds more responsible to me than woman having multiple children that they have absolutely no ability to properly raise.

Here's the story for the other side of the coin: "Women, citing preferential housing, are somehow getting pregnant while in prison and having multiple children that they raise IN PRISON, then often hand over to the state to handle."
 
 
+4 # kyzipster 2013-11-11 09:16
I think the article was straightforward and gives a clear picture of what may be rumor and what the limited facts are.

One account of a woman being asked to agree to this procedure while under sedation for a c-section is enough evidence for me to believe that something is very wrong. One quote from an administrator that echoes the beliefs of the eugenics movement is downright shocking.

If people are lying, I would think that those guilty would have had plenty of opportunity to defend themselves since this was debated by the state lawmakers and the pressure to be sterilized ended in 2010.
 
 
-1 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-11-09 15:30
It worked for Hitler, why not for California?
 
 
+3 # L H 2013-11-09 16:37
Here you go with journalism from James Corbett on the subject.
http://www.corbettreport.com/episode-094-you-are-being-sterilized/
 
 
-8 # brux 2013-11-09 16:43
Corbett is an idiot.
 
 
+6 # L H 2013-11-09 17:59
Let's see. My post was at 14:37 and yours was at 14:43. The Corbett Report is one hour. Obviously, someone here won't check the information being offered for discussion.

In fact, there seem to be a lot of contributors here that support 'the way things are' courtesy of the power elites. Hmmm.
 
 
0 # brux 2013-11-12 12:28
True, I listened to a line or two and posted because I've listened to the Corbett Report many times and the guy is a Libertarian-typ e that I don't like. I thought he might have an acceptable view of this, but he did not.

To jump to that I support "the way things are" is far worse than using random sampling on something I already know about to see if there is anything useful there.
 
 
-6 # egbegb 2013-11-09 17:18
Sterilization, eugenics and the war on drugs are all progressive programs that empower the government to do bad things to people.
 
 
+13 # pbbrodie 2013-11-09 19:50
I would like to add to this that those involved in controlling wildlife populations have long known that one of the best ways is to eliminate males. This is why during deer hunting season, hunters are allowed to take bucks for most of the season and have very limited access to times they may hunt does, females. With a lack of males, there are far fewer pregnancies and lower populations.
With this in mind, why do they focus on sterilizing women and not men?! I think this is surely a rhetorical question, no?!
 
 
+6 # pbbrodie 2013-11-09 19:53
I don't think the thumbs down crowd understands your comment. Maybe it was your use of the word progressive. At least I hope so because the three things you listed are all definitely designed to empower our government to do bad things to people, meaning us.
 
 
+2 # kyzipster 2013-11-11 09:21
Egbegb seems to be blaming eugenics and the war on drugs on liberals. It's simple minded partisan bull.
 
 
+18 # CarolYost 2013-11-09 18:14
I am shocked at the number of comments that unjustly support forced sterilizations. The state has no right whatsoever to perform these operations. Inmates have rights, too. They may in fact be able to turn their lives around, but whether or not they do, forced sterilization is horrible.
 
 
-1 # L H 2013-11-09 18:47
There is a Eugenics program, no conspiracy; it is documented.

Unfortunately, it is the other-side of the coin to the over-population sensation which is a clever gimmick to "Save the Environment", planned by behavioral modification techniques to fool progressives, liberals, environmentalis ts, and all people who care, to give up their rights.

Blue states faster than red states are accepting into local code through the Planning Departments, the "Sustainable" "Smart Growth" plans which give local money, grants, through ICLEI, the UN Agenda 21, to local groups. The planned outcome is to reduce population, herd people into high-density urban centers, and keep the population out of rural areas, away from nature, blaming people for environmental destruction like they never heard of corporations! Of course, all WATER and land resources are then available for the power elite.

Yep. All progressives have to check on this in the local urban or county government, especially the Planning Department. It is clever, low-profile, and moving forward.

Because Progressives care, we have been easily fooled.
 
 
+7 # listentome 2013-11-09 19:30
Don't be surprised if Malthusianism returns to us although thoroughly discredited after him in terms of geometric population growth.
We know that most of German race doctrines and practices were taken directly from the US Eugenics movement, which Dr. Sanger, unfortunately bought into as well.Well known among public reproductive health progressives, also, is the fact that 1/3 of Puerto Rican women under age of 40 were sterilized in the 30s. Because of our abuse of the planet, once again, it will be the poor and dispossessed who will be blamed because their offspring bring economic benefits, even if survival rate is low.
Just tell zero growth people that we must strive for zero fossil fuel emissions, not zero population. We know as soon as maternal, child health care improves, women in rural areas and the dispossessed choose to reduce their family numbers.
Indeed saddened to see forced sterilization practiced. The UN Genocide Declaration declares it a crime against humanity.
 
 
+10 # keenon the truth 2013-11-09 23:28
Are we in the twenty-first century here???!!! I am shocked by some of the people above. But then I remember that there were still lynchings until fairly recently. Land of the Free? More like Land of the Barbarians.
 
 
-1 # gilletlb 2013-11-10 07:51
Yes, we should offer free sterilization and real education to everyone on welfare instead of paying for more people born who will be uncared for and abused. It's not rocket science. We do the same for animals and people are no different.
 
 
-1 # bigkahuna671 2013-11-10 10:57
I'm sorry, but being as it's Guardian U.K. and Corey Johnson who broke the story, I have trouble believing anything she and they say. In the '70s, a judge in San Jose was sanctioned for authorizing tubal ligations on several women who he deemed were guilty of deliberately getting pregnant so they could draw more welfare...the women were several generations from the same family was the excuse he gave. However, as a policy of the state of California, I have trouble believing any of this. As usual, the far left of our RSN readership has pulled an immediate "Tea-Party" and assumed that Corey's words came from the mouth of God, just as Limbaugh's words go from his to our Lord, then on to the TP. I read some of the comments by people like keenon the truth and have to ask, do you believe everything you read? You are shocked? How do you know what this article says is really true? You don't, you just assume it is. One of the first things that bothered me about her article is her statement that people in the Cali prison system spoke to her on and off the record. Well, typical Guardian hocus-pocus and lack of honesty from Johnson as she's used supposedly off the record info to add verity to her questionable research. As for some of the people on the right who've written in, you're no saints either.
 
 
-1 # bigkahuna671 2013-11-10 10:57
CONTINUING - I read a lot of questionable material from you and have to wonder who provided these talking points for you....appears to be Anne Coulter-type gobbledy-gook designed to give credence to an otherwise questionable lack of stats.
 
 
+3 # keenon the truth 2013-11-10 16:40
Big Kahuna, did you actually watch the video and read the article? Corey Johnson is a man.
 
 
+3 # kyzipster 2013-11-11 09:33
You could say the same thing about any article. I don't know your politics but it's a tactic used by conservatives. When presented with an uncomfortable fact or opinion based in fact, dismiss the source as 'liberal bias' and move on.

It was obvious to me from reading the article that this is not about forced sterilization, court ordered sterilization. It's about unfair pressure placed on prisoners. If one piece of this story is true, if a prisoner was pressured to receive this procedure while under sedation, then I'd say that something very wrong has been happening.
 
 
+2 # Thirdeye 2013-11-10 14:07
I just had an ugly thought.

If women prisoners are getting pregnant in prison, then WHO exactly are the fathers, the male employees there? What incentive do the girls have to give the guards sex? Exchange for food and water? Then the prison execs would have positive incentive to sterilize them.
 
 
0 # Pikewich 2013-11-11 19:11
I seem to have missed the part about them getting pregnant in prison....
 
 
+4 # Mrcead 2013-11-10 22:22
Good lord, this comment section is out of control.

Forced/coerced sterilization is wrong.

End of.

The arrogance to legislate nature is appalling.
 
 
+1 # Salus Populi 2013-11-11 16:33
And, as pointed out above by another poster, forced sterilization is defined as a form of genocide, a crime against humanity. Those who advocate it are also, under international law, guilty of promoting genocide. And yes, I realize that in my above posts, I suggested forcible sterilization for the rich and their progeny, but as a means of injecting some reality in terms of resource use and just who are the real parasites in our society. [And the rich are not defined as a specific grouping under the genocide convention, either; you can look it up.]
 
 
0 # CarolynScarr 2013-11-13 00:26
Did the investigators give us any information on the racial breakdown in their study?
 

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