A Century of Eugenics in America: From the Indiana by Paul A. Lombardo

By Paul A. Lombardo

In 1907, Indiana handed the world's first involuntary sterilization legislation in line with the idea of eugenics. In time, greater than 30 states and a dozen international nations swimsuit. even though the Indiana statute was once later declared unconstitutional, different legislation limiting immigration and regulating marriage on "eugenic" grounds have been nonetheless in impact within the U.S. as overdue because the Seventies. A Century of Eugenics in the USA assesses the background of eugenics within the usa and its prestige within the age of the Human Genome undertaking. The essays discover the early aid of obligatory sterilization via medical professionals and legislators; the implementation of eugenic schemes in Indiana, Georgia, California, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Alabama; the felony and social demanding situations to sterilization; and the clients for a eugenics stream basing its claims on smooth genetic technological know-how.

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Extra info for A Century of Eugenics in America: From the Indiana Experiment to the Human Genome Era (Bioethics and the Humanities)

Sample text

In some ways, the Second World War was a reckoning for the American eugenics movement as it came face to face with the horrors of the Nazi final solution. But in other ways, the 1940s remained an active period for sterilization advocates in both Indiana and the nation. Indiana’s sterilization rate hit its highpoints during and just after the war, recording 132, 123, and 159 procedures in 1940, 1945, and 1946. The three-year total of 414 equaled 26 percent of all people sterilized in Indiana between 1936 and 1962.

Sharp used his success in Jeffersonville to initiate a national campaign for compulsory sterilization. He attended the annual meetings of the American Medical Association and gave talks on the benefits of vasectomies for reducing degeneracy. He no longer stressed vasectomy as a treatment for masturbation, as he had in his first years after reading Ochsner. Sharp became sterilization’s first nationally successful advocate. He was appointed by Jordan’s American Breeders Association eugenics committee to study compulsory sterilization.

Sharp did not see Ochsner’s suggestion or his own advocacy as immoral, although both used or urged involuntary means of carrying out a social experiment for which evidence was inadequate or disputable at the time. Nevertheless, it is too easy to dismiss Oscar McCulloch, David Jordan, and Harry Sharp as misguided zealots, elitists bent on perverting “honest science” into pseudoscience in the name of social control. These men were not monsters, and the parts they played are not roles in a simple morality play where history and circumstance can be portrayed as the clash of pure good and absolute evil.

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