Sterilization Laws Of The United States

2013 Words9 Pages
Sterilization legislature was enacted on the state level with the goal of physically preventing the procreation of individuals deemed to be unfit, mainly handicapped persons or criminals. Though the nature of these laws did not outright target certain races or social classes, a disproportionate amount of the individuals sterilized were non-white or of immigrant background. Prominent eugenicists and eugenic organizations in the U.S. played a key role in lobbying for state sterilization laws. Harry H. Laughlin, superintendent of the Eugenics Record Office, drafted the American Model Eugenical Sterilization Law in 1922, which served as a model for many sterilizations laws in the states (Berenbaum, 1998). By 1926, 23 states had passed sterilization laws that were voluntary and/or involuntary in nature (Sofair, 2000). Laughlin and other eugenicists called for the sterilization of institutionalized individuals under the assertion that their “genetically inferior” traits would be passed to their progeny and be an economic drain on the state. Many states complied, and by 1935 over 30 states had some form of sterilization law with over 21,000 compulsory sterilizations performed (Allen 1997). Though the eugenic nature of these laws was stressed by eugenicists, it was acknowledged that the political support of such laws were greatly financially motivated. Another important legislation passed by the U.S. was the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924, which was the first immigration quota
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