The U.S. was the first country to create compulsory sterilization laws during the Eugenics movement, an attempt to “purify” the American race. In 1927, the supreme court case Buck v. Bell declared constitutional the forced sterilization of anyone considered to be a carrier of the gene for “feeble-mindedness.” This includes:
- Mental retardation
- Mental illness
- Out of wedlock birth
- Immoral behavior
The case argued that Carrie Buck, an 18 year old girl who was being held at the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, came from generations of feeble minded people, and should lose the right to reproduce. Her family line was used as evidence to prove three generations of feeble-mindedness. She and her mother, both patients at the same hospital, were accused of sexual promiscuity and immoral behavior. Carrie was considered feeble-minded because she was raped and as a result had a child out of wedlock. The third piece of evidence came from the testimony of a SOCIAL WORKER, who said that Carrie’s daughter (a baby) probably possessed the feeble-minded gene, because “there was something peculiar about her.”
Compulsory sterilization laws were adopted by over 30 states and led to forced sterilizations of 60,000 people in the U.S.
Virginia: 3,800 sterilizations
California: 20,000 sterilizations before 1964
Adolf Hitler plagiarized American Eugenicist Harry Laughlin’s model for Eugenics law, and used it to justify the forced sterilization of 350,000 people in Germany. This was the beginning of the holocaust.
I did not learn anything about this before taking social work classes in college. It is probably not found in any high school textbooks or curriculum. Covering up dark parts of American history creates the illusion that we are free and safe. This is more evidence to show that this has clearly never been the case.