Aggregated News

an old poster that says "stop forced sterilization"

It’s easy to think of eugenics as something that happened far away from us, with ideals alien to our character. Yet Adolf Hitler himself studied—and was inspired by—American laws that prevented the birth of people “injurious to the racial stock.”

Eugenics—the desire to increase qualities deemed to be favorable within the gene pool, with sterilization as one of its primary tools—isn’t owned by Nazi Germany, and it hasn’t gone away.

Far from being a fringe movement, the eugenics movement cast its net over everyone from Planned Parenthood leader Margaret Sanger to Save the Redwoods League co-founder Madison Grant. The movement’s creator, Francis Galton, was cousin to none other than Charles Darwin. The desire to improve the human race was tied up in what at the time seemed like a noble pursuit to make a better world, one that comes chillingly close to ideals we cherish today.

The arguable capital of the eugenics movement in the U.S. was even closer to home—in Northern California, where one third of America’s sterilizations occurred. And the Sonoma State Home, an institution... see more