Eugenics — Again

Posted by Pete Shanks September 25, 2008
Biopolitical Times
Carrie Buck, who was sterilized after a 1927 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court
Compulsory sterilization is in the news yet again, in at least three different places:
  1. A Texas judge has "ordered a woman, as a condition of her probation, to stop having children."
  2. In Vancouver, there has been widespread discussion of whether a pregnant 27-year-old mother whose five children have been taken into care should be sterilized.
  3. A Louisiana State Representative "wants to pay poor people to get sterilized and reward rich people for having children." He claims that "the black community will say this is some sort of race-based genocide" but it's not because "the majority of people on welfare in the nation are white. ... The politically safe thing to do is to not touch this, but the train is potentially going off the cliff and everyone just wants to ignore the problem."

The Times-Picayune has lambasted that last proposal in an extraordinarily strong attack, saying that the Representative in question "is known for bone-headed ideas" and that other lawmakers "have even named a tongue-in-cheek award for the session's dumbest piece of legislation after him." (His seat was once held by Klansman David Duke.) The editorial does call the proposal eugenics, and does remind us of the horrific history in this country, and of the Nazi version.

Similarly, the Vancouver Sun's report does mention the history of Canadian eugenics, and the Wall Street Journal's article on the Texas case does place it in the context of history, emphasizing that after "the horrors of eugenics in Nazi Germany, the sterilization movement dwindled." Nevertheless, the paper opened up a blog on the topic for comments, and the conversation (in that case, largely thoughtful and varied) begins again.

Some struggles are never completely over.

Previously on Biopolitical Times: