December 27th, 2011
11:40 PM ET

Video: Forced sterilization in America

Decades ago many states had eugenics laws enforcing sterilization policies. The victims are still awaiting justice. Elizabeth Cohen reports.

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Filed under: Medical News
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Maureen

    Sad that our government has to overstep their boundries and become judgemental and make unwise decisions as to who should or should not pro-create. However, in the case of our "special needs" community I take exception to the comment that the government deemed them "unfit' to have children. The more apt term should have been "unable to care for children". One or two genetically mentally disable people will produce another mentally disable human. They cannot hold jobs and in most cases are unable to care for an infant. Since we no longer have institutions to care for these very wonderful and special people they are left to be cared for by decreasingly funded programs. If they can be left without supervision they sit in front of a television or computer all day. If they have to have 24 hour supervision they are either cared for by a family that is extremely stressed or they are made wards of the state. Our school system offers services until they are 21 or 25, depending on the state. They then go to adult services after that and medicaid has drastically cut funding for these services. For so many the future is very bleak and lonely, especially in poor communities. Better that they do not have children and are encouraged to reach their full potential as members of our society. Let those who are the most vocal on the criticism get out and be proactive in giving our special needs community a feeling of value in our society. Hire them, advocate for them, treat them with respect. There is a lot more to their life then to be able to bear children that they are unable to care for.

    December 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
  2. Shawn Stewart

    I think anyone who was forcibly sterilized per the eugenics law should definitely be compensated. No state or legislation should be able to deem it necessary due to someones concieved ability to have and care for children.
    Its amazing that the government would allow such a thing to happen to people who have done nothing to deserve this treatment. You would think that if the government thought this type of thing was ok then why don't they consider more seriously having pedofiles castrated. At least that makes some sence.

    December 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  3. Jane

    Yes, they should be compensated. What was done was despicable.

    December 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  4. Jeanne

    I just watched the segment on forced sterilization. You showed a map of the states that participated in this and Illinois wasn't included. I worked in an OB/Gyn office in the earty 1980's and Illinois was still doing this. Patient's were told if they wanted to stay on public aid they had to be sterillized, mainly because they kept coming in pregnant and were considered "slow". Apparently, Illinois hasn't admitted they did this at one time.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  5. R. Hampton

    While forced sterilization seems akin to Nazi policy, I do believe that there are huge numbers of Americans who stupidly and recklessly pass on serious illnesses, deformities, and genetics to their children that humans would breed out of any animal by not letting those . All this does is increase medical costs to all of us by a significant amount, and further undermine the human race as a whole. If people cannot practice some common sense and discretion about reproduction, maybe it makes sense for someone else to make that choice for them?
    If you believe in 'God', then you should realize that parts of Biblical history are basically genetic cleansing of the human race. The Noah story, for example. Noah and his family were chosen to survive because they were 'pure in all their generations', meaning that they had the genetic stock desired by 'God', and those with impure generations, perhaps too much neanderthal blood (?), were intended to die so that the pure strain of humans could evolve as intended, again by God, Gods (the first Biblical references were plural, the idea of one god came later, a human invention), or perhaps the alien race that bred us in the first place.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  6. Kristi

    These were not the only people forced into sterilization. There were many Native American women who were, if not force, unknowingly or cohersed into sterilization by the Indian Health Service. Some of these women who were sterilized did so by consent but truely believed they would lose there IHS Benefits/Services if they did not comply with the sterilization. Further more, in the 1970's, Goerge H. Bushes "Family Planning Budget was dramtically increased during these times of sterilization. A widely known example if this is two cases in Montana of 15 year old girls who were to have their appendix removed, also were given tubal ligations.

    December 28, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  7. David

    I honestly feel that the policy of eugenics in the past have saved American families and tax payers from such a huge burden. Today we feel that everyone deserves a right to life, but does everyone have a right to procreate? What we call mentally disabled today was called "feeble minded" decades ago. I believe that governments did this, not out of malice, but out of necessity. It seems that those who were targeted in your report could barely take care of themselves, let alone a child. Please prove me wrong if you can.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:45 am |
    • michael

      sounds horrible but I agree. people who aren't able to support or raise a child simply shouldn't be able to have them. sorry Ms. Citizen if you live a life of poverty on government assistance, I am sure you will love your child but that doesnt mean the rest of us have to pay for their food and shelter.

      December 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm |