Saturday, February 28, 2015


Anywhere between 7,300 and 8,300 people sterilized under state-sponsored law

Image Credits: The Offspring, MGM


Virginia lawmakers have approved a measure seeking to financially compensate victims of its 50-year long, state-sponsored eugenics sterilization program.
On Thursday, the Virginia General Assembly voted in favor of paying out $25,000 to each of the 11 remaining victims who were forcibly sterilized under the state’s “Eugenical Sterilization Act.”

Passed in 1924, the Act led to the involuntary sterilization of anywhere between 7,300 and 8,300 people until it was repealed in 1974, and is said to have partly inspired Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s dream to create a master race.

Under the Act, leaders of colonies and physicians at mental health institutions across the state identified individuals deemed “undesirable,” “defective” and feeble-minded and made the case to hospital boards to prevent those individuals from having children.

Victims deemed “mentally ill” and “mentally deficient” included those “afflicted with hereditary forms of insanity that are recurrent, idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy,” according to the law.

The law protected the act of sterilizing minorities, poor whites and “mongrels,” people of non-white heritage.

“Often, ‘mongrels’ and ‘worthless’ whites were collected in ‘mountain sweeps.’ This involved a sheriff of a nearby town driving into mountain villages and forcibly removing individuals and taking them to institutions where they would only be released upon submission to sterilization,” according to a report compiled by the University of Vermont.

The proposed sterilization of Virginia resident Carrie Buck, who was deemed “feeble-minded” after having the baby of her rapist, sparked the Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell in 1927, which established the legitimacy of the practice with the goal of eliminating “defective” individuals.

At the time, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Holmes is said to have remarked that “three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

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