Type to search

Arizona Republican Resigns After Proposing Sterilization Of Poor Women

Memo Pad Politics

Arizona Republican Resigns After Proposing Sterilization Of Poor Women


Former Arizona state senator Russell Pearce resigned from his position as the Arizona Republican Party’s vice chairman on Sunday, after suggesting that Arizona sterilize all women on Medicaid.

“You put me in charge of Medicaid,” Pearce said on his radio show last week, “the first thing I’d do is get [female recipients] Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs and alcohol, and if you want to [reproduce] or use drugs or alcohol, then get a job.”

Right, because people on Medicaid couldn’t possibly have jobs. And apparently not everyone in the United States has the right to have children.

He later contradicted himself, arguing that the government shouldn’t be involved in people’s lives at all.

“I know there’s people out there [who] need help, and my heart goes out to them, too,” he said. “But you know what? That should never be a government role. That’s a role for family, church, and community.”

Though Pearce claims to oppose dependence on the government, he’s didn’t mention the fact that the government pays his own paycheck. He recently accepted a job working for Maricopa County Treasurer Charles Hoskins for $85,000 per year. His job involves promoting the Elderly Assistance Fund, which helps out low-income seniors.

“That is, he’s helping to do exactly what he preaches against on his radio show,” Phoenix New Times’ Stephen Lemons wrote.

Lemons also points out that Pearce is very “influential” in the Arizona GOP, and that many Republican candidates seek out his endorsement.

The Arizona Democratic Party quickly took advantage of Pearce’s influence on other state Republicans to conflate his sterilization comments with the GOP’s values.

“For the first vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party to advocate for forced sterilization is unacceptable,” executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party D.J. Quinlan said. “The silence of Republican leaders like Doug Ducey, Andy Tobin, and Robert Graham is even worse. It indicates that they have made a cynical calculation that Russell Pearce and his brand of politics appeals to the most extreme elements of their electoral base.”

The Republican nominees for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other candidates rushed to denounce Pearce’s comments.

On Sunday night Pearce resigned, claiming that his comments were “written by someone else and [he] failed to attribute them to the author.”

“I do not want the progressive left and the media to try and take a misstatement from my show and use it to attack our candidates. I care about the Republican Party and its conservative platform too much to let them do that,” he said in a statement. “I have no intention of being used as a distraction by the Democrats looking to escape responsibility for their failed policies.”

Pearce’s resignation did not stop the attacks, though. On Monday, Arizona state representative Adam Kwasman (who memorably thought a bus full of kids on their way to camp was transporting migrant children with “fear on their faces”), wrote in the Arizona Capital Times that Pearce’s comments are not only “unacceptable and wholly inappropriate,” but “were profoundly progressive and, in my opinion, betrayed a problematic misunderstanding of the proper moral justification of government.” Kwasman similarly described the eugenics programs of the 1920s as “progressive.”

Pearce had endorsed Kwasman’s failed campaign for Congress.

ThinkProgress’s Bryce Covert notes that Pearce’s “ideas are far from being on the fringe. They in fact help inform our policies.”

She goes on to cite the Nixon administration, which “pushed through funding” for sterilization of low-income women and California’s previous practice of sterilizing women in their prison system.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Interested in U.S. politics? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!



  1. Dominick Vila September 16, 2014

    Nothing will help us more, politically speaking, than an articulate Tea Party zealot voicing his opinion.

  2. Leftout September 16, 2014

    He is just going along with the massive sterilization, abortions that are going on in more liberal cities, NYC, Chicago, LA. It is a good liberal idea for once, keeping . unplanned parenthood in check. It should be mandatory for all til the age of reason, perhaps post menapause for some…just sayin’o

    1. Grannysmovin September 16, 2014

      Does Leftout represent that you were left out of receiving brains, an education, love from your parents? Abortions are a legal procedure performed only on women who chose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Where do you get your information from “massive sterilzation”? What he is doing is openly speaking what most Republicans believe.

      1. Leftout September 16, 2014

        Unplanned Parenthood clinics are mainly post contraceptive amelioration for failing to prevent conception with already plentiful methods…but some out of blind passion’ do not use them and …..it happens. It would be better to temporarily sterilize , as many men do, rather than go through an abortion, so I say.

        1. latebloomingrandma September 16, 2014

          Sterilization is done to be permanent.

          1. Leftout September 16, 2014

            My point is …it can be a useful method til one grows some sense as to when children can be taken care of instead of left to be shot in the street , or left to fend for themselves with unwatchful parents .

        2. Grannysmovin September 16, 2014

          What is temporarily sterilization for a woman? All I can say is I am glad you are not the deciding factor on women’s health and reproductive issues.

    2. latebloomingrandma September 16, 2014

      You make no sense at all, Leftout.

  3. Allan Richardson September 16, 2014

    The irony is that Republicans do not believe in “late term” abortions of those they consider “inferior” BEFORE birth; they would prefer to have them shot by police 18 years later. And their private sector “donors” (i.e. MASTERS) promote economic policies to keep the poor people poor and turn the middle class poor also (as they did in the 1920s and the first few years of the 1930s).

    But seriously, about sterilizations, Republicans want to oppose Planned Parenthood, not only for the very rare abortion recommendation, but for providing the birth control information and medical care as well. Everything PP recommends is subject to the WOMAN’S choice, but the pseudo “progressive” sterilization of women AGAINST their will, which was done by Jim Crow Southern states predominantly, is not condoned by PP. It is, however, condoned and performed by China. So why aren’t the religious right in America BOYCOTTING the atheist, communist nation of China by refusing to buy Chinese made products? Oh right, because that OTHER wing of the GOP, the big business wing, makes money by moving so many factories to China that it is almost impossible to buy anything made in the USA any longer. And as a side effect (unintended?) it makes good paying jobs scarcer and puts more Americans either out of work or into very low paying jobs that must be done here in America.

  4. aabsalooka September 16, 2014

    The singular difference between Mr. Pearce’s forms of contraception and ours is in who gets to make the decision. In his Nazi dream world, the woman herself cannot decide, but the predominately male run state would. When you slice open a freedom loving, get-government-out-of-lives republican this is often the rotten core you find.

    1. Michael Ross September 18, 2014

      So true. Republicans, far more often than not, intend to do the exact opposite of what they are preaching, ergo when they rail against “big government,” you can be assured that their real feelings are that the government is not intrusive enough.

      And before any tea-baggers start trolling up this article, I want them to answer me this first: How many Democrats can you name who give a flying crap what happens in your bedroom?

  5. 1standlastword September 16, 2014

    Surely, too many children born to unfit parents are only made victims of poverty, abuse and neglect but a policy of eugenics is not humane and certainly not American. Pearce proves–once again–that “modern conservative republicans” are organically incompetent when it comes to calculating solutions to social issues that matter to real people (otherwise not corporate citizens)

    1. Leftout September 16, 2014

      Calculating solutions? Sterilization as stated elsewhere is a good temporary fix for prolific childbearers, many men , sacrifice themselves to the procedure, rather than fill the world with uncared for progeny…..something to say for men anyway.

      1. 1standlastword September 16, 2014

        There is a moral difference between force sterilization and voluntary sterilization…. Pearce is a hardheaded conservative with a horribly racist orientation. AZ once had him recalled and his association with J T Ready and a eugenics group are a taint etched permanently in his politics. He knows he is bad for your party

  6. stcroixcarp September 16, 2014

    I am all for any man who wants to go into politics to voluntarily become a eunuch. That way he can say and damn fool thing he wants to with out the possibility of him reproducing. It is the christian thing to do.

  7. James Bowen September 16, 2014

    Pearce is on to something in suggesting that people who can’t afford to have kids should be disincentivized from doing so. However, he goes to far in singling out women. Unless they get artificially inseminated, when it comes to having kids, it takes two to tango. The men should also be disincetivized.

  8. photojack53 September 18, 2014

    This demonstrates one more way that Republicans are CLUELESS!
    Racism and the UNCONSCIONABLE use of “wedge issues” like marriage equality are just SOME of MANY reasons the GOP is EVIL to the core. Bought-out politicians denying global climate change, sold-out to their dirty oil and coal donors is another. This is also behind their counter-productive desire to do away with the EPA, the Clean Water Act and their INEXPLICABLE support of fracking. Their anti-environmental record flies in the face of their SWORN DUTY TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY! Then there’s their “War on Women”, where their “small government” policy is turned on its head to deny a woman’s right to choose. Need I mention their UNETHICAL voter disenfranchisement policies and how damaging THAT is to America’s electoral process? They vote in lockstep with their corrupt leadership like “sheeple.” Herding Republicans is like herding sheep. Herding Democrats is like herding cats, as they think independently, something foreign to most Republicans! The GOP “treatment” of minorities, their anti-GLBT campaign, their UGLY “swiftboating” of highly ethical Democratic politicians and SO much more shows CLEARLY to all who think that they’re nothing but lying scumbag hypocrites!
    Keep up your pressure on the GOP and expose their EVIL tactics and misleading strategies. Expose Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist and his twisting of our language, mis-naming of bills to imply the opposite of what they mean and other false rhetoric. Expose their Koch Brothers connections, campaign violations and hidden agenda, Their Karl Rove PAC and others. Expose their ongoing UNCONSCIONABLE “War on Women”, their rabid, Bible-based anti-GLBT strategy, their mixing of church and state issues, their idiotic denial of global climate change, their inane wasting of taxpayer dollars fighting marriage equality in several states and their failed economic policies, like “trickle down” economics. Also expose their EVIL, unrelenting campaign against Obama, which has held back our recovery and directly hurt countless millions of American citizen’s lives by their prolonging of high unemployment and lengthening of the foreclosure crisis. I could go on and on, but Americans need reminding of who CAUSED our economic downward death spiral (Dubya) AND slowed our recovery with their IMMORAL obstructionism!

  9. T.j. Thomas September 21, 2014

    …“written by someone else and [he] failed to attribute them to the author.” So in other words he’s both a fossil and a plagiarist.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.