Tuesday, May 24, 2011

War on the Weak: Eugenics in America

Carrie Buck of Charlottesville, Virginia

As soon as Virginia's Eugenical Sterilization Act was passed by the General Assembly in 1924, Virginia Colony officials selected 17 year old Carrie Buck of Charlottesville to test the law's legality. Carrie Buck's foster parents had committed her to the Virginia Colony shortly after she gave birth to an illegitimate child. The family's embarrassment may have been compounded by the fact that Carrie's pregnancy was the result of being raped by a relative of her foster parents. This point was never raised in the subsequent court proceedings. Carrie's mother, Emma Buck, had previously been committed to the asylum.

Eugenic Booth, Topeka, Kansas

In total, 3032 individuals were sterilized in Kansas, 58% of which were male. In terms of the total number of sterilizations, Kansas ranks 6th in the United States. Many more people with mentally illnesses (2,063) than people who were considered “mentally deficient” (856) were sterilized.

By the late '20s, more than half the states in the union had laws to eliminate "undesirables." Tens of thousands were forcibly sterilized; tens of thousands more were denied the right to marry or were institutionalized. Some died because doctors withheld treatment from them in an effort to stop "defective germ plasm" from flowing into the American gene pool. The "Ultimate Program," as it was called in 1923, was to extend negative eugenics to every nation on earth.

War on the Weak: Eugenics in America

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