IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Arizona Republican suggests sterilizing poor women

The author of Arizona's "papers please" SB1070 law was rejected by voters -- and has now lost his job in the state GOP.
Russell Pearce speaks before a Senate Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee.
Russell Pearce speaks before a Senate Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee.
Russell Pearce has had quite a career in Arizona. The Republican started as a fairly obscure state senator, before his anti-immigrant SB1070 pushed him into the national spotlight, which Pearce parlayed into a promotion as state Senate President.
His shooting star didn't last -- Pearce's record and extremist associations undermined his standing, and in 2011, voters pushed him out of office in a recall election.
State Republicans probably should have allowed Pearce to fade from public view, but instead, GOP officials made Pearce the #2 leader in the state party. As Zach Roth reported, that didn't turn out too well, either.

The far-right former lawmaker who helped create Arizona's "papers please" immigration law has resigned as a top official with the state GOP after making comments about sterilizing poor women. [...] On Saturday, the state Democratic Party highlighted comments Pearce made recently on his radio show. Discussing the state's public assistance programs, Pearce declared: "You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I'd do is get 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."

Just so we're clear, by making Norplant a part of public assistance, Pearce was, fairly explicitly, talking about sterilizing low-income women.
By way of a response, the principal author of Arizona's "papers please" law argued in a written statement that he was referencing "comments written by someone else and failed to attribute them to the author."
It's a rare sight: a politician trying to defend himself by relying on an admission of plagiarism.
Of course, the problem has nothing to do with attribution and everything to do with an intended message. No one cares whether Pearce was sharing someone else's argument; everyone cares that he talked about sterilizing poor people.
Daniel Strauss added that Arizona Republicans were so eager to support Pearce after his recall race that he was made the first-ever vice chairman of the Arizona GOP a year after his ouster.