Arizona GOPer Resigns After Calling for Forced Sterilization of Women on Medicaid

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The vice president of Arizona's Republican Party resigned late Sunday night after advocating for the forced sterilization of poor women on Medicaid, according to the Arizona Republic.

During his talk-radio show on Saturday, former state Sen. Russell Pearce said "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."

The comments were first brought to light by Arizona Democratic Party Executive Director DJ Quinlan, in a statement that called for Arizona Republicans to condemn the remarks (Quinlan argued that the GOP's silence on the remarks implied they believed Pearce's stance "appeals to the most extreme elements of their electoral base").

The state's GOP was more than up to the task. GOP strategist Sean Noble called for Pearce to "resign or be removed" on Saturday via Twitter. "There's nothing conservative about (fascism)," Noble tweeted. "Pearce doesn't represent Republicans. He must resign or be removed." Mark Brnovich, the Republican candidate for attorney general, called the comments "cruel" and invoked his mother's escape from 1950s communist Yugoslavia:

GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey and congressional candidates Martha McSally and Andy Tobin also condemned the remarks over the weekend, with McSally also calling for his resignation.

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In his resignation statement, Pearce said he was discussing the abuses of the welfare system and quoted someone without attributing them. That was a mistake that "has been taken by the media and the left and used to hurt our Republican candidates."

Of course, this isn't Pearce's first brush with controversy. In Arizona, he has a history of associating with neo-Nazis, forwarding anti-Semitic articles to his associates and blaming the victims of the Aurora, Colorado shooting for not arming themselves in defense.

In 2011 Pearce, a Tea Party darling, was recalled by his constituents for being too extreme. The next year he lost his bid to regain his seat, but has remained involved in politics ever since. In fact, with all of the controversies he's overcome, it wouldn't be surprising if Arizona politics still has a place for someone who could take the idea of sterilizing the poor seriously.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.