Oct 242010
 
 October 24, 2010  Misc

From CBC News:

Historians, academics and victims gathered at the University of Alberta on Saturday to re-examine the province’s former eugenics policy.

In 1928, the Alberta government passed legislation that allowed the province to medically sterilize people deemed to have mental disabilities.

Before the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta was repealed in 1972, more than 2,800 sterilizations were performed throughout the province.

Leilani Muir, who successfully sued the province in 1995 after being sterilized because she failed an IQ test, was one of the speakers at the Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada conference.

Read more from CBC.

By the time Canada’s use of sterilization on the intellectually disabled started, it had been in effect in the U.S. for a few decades.  In an article  by Hoangmai H. Pham and Barron H. Lerner about the issue that was published in 2001, the authors wrote:

In 1907, reflecting the eugenicists’ influence, states began enacting laws allowing involuntary sterilization of the developmentally disabled. Courts initially declared early sterilization statutes unconstitutional, but support for such legislation grew after World War I. A 1927 Supreme Court ruling upheld these laws. In Buck v Bell, a case of an institutionalized woman who had given birth to an illegitimate child, the court ruled that forced sterilization was constitutional under certain circumstances. Justice Holmes’ opinion read:

It is better…if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or…let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those…manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…Three generations of imbeciles is enough.

Buck v Bell unleashed a wave of forced sterilizations. Whereas physicians had performed 10,877 sterilizations of institutionalized persons through 1928, they performed 27,210 between 1929 and 1941. Public authorities institutionalized some women solely for sterilization and then released them. Between 1907 and 1963, more than 60,000 Americans, mostly women, were sterilized without their consent.

Many countries have used forced sterilization. In some cases it has been used for intellectual disability, in other cases for racial motives or as a “treatment” for sex offenders. And of course, much of its use has been political.

Forced sterilization by any name goes to core issues of privacy.  If you are not aware of your country’s history with respect to the use forced sterilization, spend some time reading up on it.

Cross-posted from PHIprivacy.net

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