Friday, May 6, 2016

Eugenics, American Style

Strange. Not a word about the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, who was one of the leaders of the eugenics movement in America. And it's silly to bring up the 2016 campaign, except in the context of Planned Parenthood. From The New Yorker:
A number of states passed laws permitting eugenic sterilization in the early twentieth century, some of which were subsequently struck down in court. Virginia passed its law in 1924, largely thanks to Priddy’s advocacy, but he was advised not to carry out any sterilizations until the law had been tested in court as far as appeals would take it. For this, he needed a patient to pin his legal case on. Carrie was a desirable candidate for several reasons. She had been declared a middle-grade moron—a technical designation, based on I.Q., that placed her relatively high on the intelligence scale, above the “idiot” and “imbecile” classifications and just below normal. Morons were considered particularly dangerous: they were smart enough to pass undetected and possibly breed with their superiors.

Carrie, moreover, had had a child as an unmarried teen-ager, demonstrating the heightened sexuality and fertility—or “differential fecundity”—said to be common among the mentally deficient. Her mother and daughter had been labelled defective as well—the latter, still an infant, without any testing—providing evidence that Carrie’s reported shortcomings were hereditary. All of this added up to a terrifying spectre: Carrie was a walking womb, a pot of genetic poisons that might seep into purer bloodlines. And that is how Carrie Buck came to be at the center of the Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, which, in an 8–1 decision, made forced sterilization for eugenic purposes legal in the United States. (Read more.)

No comments: