- This is why you have to keep a close eye on your leaders:
- February 13th, 14:37
Forced Sterilization in the U.S.
It is hard to overstate how popular eugenics had become in the United States by the early 20th century. Consider that by 1936, 31 of the 48 states had some type of eugenics or sterilization law.
Luckily, the legislation was not as extreme as a few eugenics advocates, such as neurologist Foster Kennedy, wanted. As he wrote in 1942: “I am in favor of euthanasia for those hopeless ones who should never have been born- Nature’s mistakes.”
In fact, Kennedy proposed that when a ‘defective child’ reached age five, if an appointed medical board determined that the:
Defective has no future or hope of one, then I believe it is a merciful and kindly thing to relieve that defective – often tortured and convulsed, grotesque and absurd, useless and foolish and entirely undesirable – the agony of living.
Another leading eugenics proponent, Henry Laughlin of the influential Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, was slightly less callous. Rather than mercy killings, he was satisfied with simply stopping the reproduction of “inadequates,” and he created a Model Eugenical Sterilization Law to that end.
This model law provided for the sterilization of the “socially inadequate” which comprised a very wide range of “degenerates:”
A socially inadequate person is one who by his or her own effort, regardless of etiology or prognosis, fails chronically in comparison with normal persons, to maintain himself or herself as a useful member of the organized social life of the state…
The socially inadequate classes, regardless of etiology or prognosis, are… feeble-minded… insane (including the psychopathic) … criminalistics (including the delinquent and wayward) … epileptic … inebriate (including drug-habitués) … diseased (including the tuberculous, the syphilitic, the leprous, and others with chronic, infectious and legally segregable diseases) …blind … deaf … deformed (including the crippled) … and dependent (including orphans, ne’er-do-wells, the homeless, tramps and paupers).
In 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell, found Virginia’s eugenics law, based on Laughlin’s model law, constitutional with regard to the forced sterilization of a “feeble minded white woman:”
The judgment finds . . . that Carrie Buck is the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring. . . that she may be sexually sterilized . . . and that her welfare and that of society will be promoted by [it] . . . .It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for the imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.
Altogether, more than 60,000 people were subjected to involuntary sterilization in the United States by the time the laws were abolished in the mid- 20th century. Similar laws could be found throughout the Western world and likewise began being abolished as a response to the extreme measures the Nazis had gone to in their eugenics programs.
U.S. Immigration Laws
As you can imagine, racists and xenophobes used eugenic principles to further their agendas. With names like the Race Betterment Foundation, activists encouraged Congress to pass the Immigration Act of 1924 that set limitations on the number of immigrants from “inferior” stock such as Southern Europe and Asia. The president who signed the act into law, Calvin Coolidge, had once said on the issue: “America should be kept American . . . . Biological laws show that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races.”