Eugenics: Captive Victims

Between 2006 and 2010 nearly 150 female prison inmates in California were allegedly sterilized  without proper authorization.

California law requires doctors to obtain approval from a state medical review committee to perform such procedures.

A report by the Center for Investigative Reporting said the women received tubal ligations.  All were inmates in the California Institution for Women in Corona and Valley State Prison in Chowchilla.

Ten other women allegedly claimed they were improperly sterilized using other procedures, including having their ovaries removed. There was no evidence that any male prisoners were sterilized.

Some of the women claimed they did not receive adequate information about the procedure and were reportedly told by doctors they were “not good mothers” if they refused.

The operations were performed at outside hospitals and medical facilities by doctors under contract with the state’s Department of Corrections.

The California Legislative Women’s Caucus said: “Pressuring a vulnerable population—including at least one documented instance of a patient under sedation—to undergo these extreme procedures erodes the ban on eugenics.”

Noting that the total cost to the state for performing the highly questionable procedures was only $147,460, one of the doctors allegedly involved reportedly said: “Over a 10-year period, that isn’t a huge amount of money compared to what you save in welfare paying for those unwanted children—as they procreated more.”

Requiring state oversight of sterilizing prisoners stems from California’s disturbing history of eugenics.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that: “Between 1909 and 1964, more than 20,000 people in California were robbed of their reproductive abilities through a state program of forced sterilization.

“Under the misleading guise of ‘race betterment,’ doctors at California’s state hospitals sterilized those who were considered ‘unfit to propagate.’”

During that period doctors reportedly targeted women who “already had too many children” or were believed to be “repeat offenders.”

The term eugenics (“good birth”) was coined in 1883 by Francis Glaton, a cousin of Charles Darwin.  Glaton was a biologist who used statistical correlations to study the inheritance of intelligence.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, popularized the idea.  She and her supporters believed they could “purify” the human race by preventing “defectives” from reproducing.

The concept won widespread acceptance.  During the last century, California and 31 other states had laws that singled out minority groups, the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill and criminals as inferior and sterilized them to prevent them spreading their genes.

For example, between 1904 and 1964, an estimated 20,000 men and women were sterilized in California alone.

Virginia produced one of the most famous cases.  It involved Carrie Buck, a 17-year-old from Charlottesville, VA., who bore a child out of wedlock.

She was picked as the first person to be sterilized because officials said she and her mother shared the traits of “feeblemindedness” and sexual promiscuity.

In addition, officials decided that Carrie’s baby was “below average” and “not quite normal.”

The case eventually went before the U.S. Supreme Court where Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes included the following infamous words in the opinion:

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

Attempts to improve the human race were carried to horrific extremes in Nazi Germany, where millions—especially Jews—were put to death and used for ghoulish experiments.

This latest example of eugenics in California is just another reminder that pro-life advocates need to be vigilant, against all attacks on the sanctity of human life because evil genies are hard to keep in the bottle.


by Wayne DuBois  
Media Relations Advisor