Russell Pearce stepped down from his position Sunday as First Vice Chair of the Arizona Republican Party.
On his September 9 radio show, Pearce – the lead sponsor of Arizona’s SB 1070 – told a caller he would fix public assistance programs by forcibly sterilizing poor women:
“You put me in charge of Medicaid, 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,” he said.
Pearce was the Arizona Senate president when he sponsored the 2010 “papers please” law, considered the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation. Pearce was assisted by the nativist organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and its legal arm, Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), in the drafting of SB 1070. In 2011, Pearce was recalled from office and was later appointed to the state Republican Party position.
Pearce’s remarks were just the latest in a long history of efforts by anti-immigrant politicians and strategists to push for the sterilization of already vulnerable women. The nativist movement in the United States has long argued for population control in their stance against immigration, and FAIR’s founder has documented involvement in the development and funding of a coercive sterilization drug.