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View Diary: Forced Sterilizations of Indigenous Women (Update) (173 comments)

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  •  Eugenic Sterilization Laws (1+ / 0-)
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    Winter Rabbit

    The Eugenics Archive has an article on Eugenic Sterilization Laws by Paul Lombardo, University of Virginia.  

    Indiana enacted the first law allowing sterilization on eugenic grounds in 1907, with Connecticut following soon after. Despite these early statutes, sterilization did not gain widespread popular approval until the late 1920s.

    Advocacy in favor of sterilization was one of Harry Laughlin’s first major projects at the Eugenics Record Office. In 1914, he published a Model Eugenical Sterilization Law that proposed to authorize sterilization of the "socially inadequate" – people supported in institutions or "maintained wholly or in part by public expense. The law encompassed the "feebleminded, insane, criminalistic, epileptic, inebriate, diseased, blind, deaf; deformed; and dependent" – including "orphans, ne'er-do-wells, tramps, the homeless and paupers." By the time the Model Law was published in 1914, twelve states had enacted sterilization laws.

    By 1924, approximately 3,000 people had been involuntarily sterilized in America; the vast majority (2,500) in California. That year Virginia passed a Eugenical Sterilization Act based on Laughlin’s Model Law. It was adopted as part of a cost-saving strategy to relieve the tax burden in a state where public facilities for the "insane" and "feebleminded" had experienced rapid growth. The law was also written to protect physicians who performed sterilizing operations from malpractice lawsuits.

    Despite the Skinner case, sterilization of people in institutions for the mentally ill and mentally retarded continued through the mid-1970's. At one time or another, 33 states had statutes under which more than 60,000 Americans endured involuntary sterilization. The Buck v. Bell precedent allowing sterilization of the so-called "feebleminded" has never been overruled.

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