Event Title

Degenerates: Compulsory Sterilization in Virginia, 1880-1940

Location

Taylor 400, Madison Union, JMU

Start Date

4-6-2019 10:30 AM

Description

Between 1880 and 1940, negative eugenics reigned in Virginia through the legally compulsory sterilizations of inmates. Those deemed to have low IQs, a lack of emotional intelligence, and criminal tendencies were labeled "degenerates" and "feebleminded" and were considered for sterilization. Doctors forcibly prohibited these people from reproducing and spreading these "undesirable" qualities through procedures that removed reproductive organs. Following the 1924 Virginia Sterilization Act, the U.S. Supreme Court case of Buck vs. Bell (1927) affirmed the constitutionality of forced sterilization of inmates, ruling that it did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment, which protected an individual's rights from state intervention. Many justifications for negative eugenics, including race betterment and economics, allowed these procedures to continue legally for years. This paper uses state government documents and court cases to examine the arguments for the sterilization of approximately seven thousand Virginians.

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Apr 6th, 10:30 AM

Degenerates: Compulsory Sterilization in Virginia, 1880-1940

Taylor 400, Madison Union, JMU

Between 1880 and 1940, negative eugenics reigned in Virginia through the legally compulsory sterilizations of inmates. Those deemed to have low IQs, a lack of emotional intelligence, and criminal tendencies were labeled "degenerates" and "feebleminded" and were considered for sterilization. Doctors forcibly prohibited these people from reproducing and spreading these "undesirable" qualities through procedures that removed reproductive organs. Following the 1924 Virginia Sterilization Act, the U.S. Supreme Court case of Buck vs. Bell (1927) affirmed the constitutionality of forced sterilization of inmates, ruling that it did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment, which protected an individual's rights from state intervention. Many justifications for negative eugenics, including race betterment and economics, allowed these procedures to continue legally for years. This paper uses state government documents and court cases to examine the arguments for the sterilization of approximately seven thousand Virginians.