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MARRIAGE AND STERILIZATION. Michael Zornberg, Anna Massefski, Jacob Duggan, and Sara Provencal. What does Eugenics have to do with marriage?. Virginia Codes No interracial marriage Punished with confinement in penitentiary for it

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Marriage and sterilization


Michael Zornberg, Anna Massefski, Jacob Duggan, and Sara Provencal

Marriage and sterilization

What does Eugenics have to do with marriage?

  • Virginia Codes

  • No interracial marriage

  • Punished with confinement in penitentiary for it

  • The eugenicists didn't want "negative" traits to be passed on to children

    • People usually got married before they had kids

Marriage and sterilization

How was it promoted?

  • Presenting 3 generations of feeblemindedness

  • Proof in court 

    • Buck loses case and people start to believe "data" provided by the highly educated.

Marriage and sterilization

What were Eugenics goals in marriage, reproduction, and sterilization?

  • Keep families with a 'tendency for crime' from continuing in their 'badness' ---> Parasites

  • Make 'better' people reproduce together and make more 'good' children

  • Social Darwinism

  • "Virginia officials, acting under an eugenics law that served as a model for the rest of the nation, tried to purify the white race from 1924 to 1979 by targeting virtually any human shortcoming they believed was a hereditary disease that could be stamped out by surgical sterilization." (p.201)

  • "The whole idea of perfection of mankind meant that you were willing to experiment through science or social reform to do whatever you could to bring about a society that was better..." (p.203)

Marriage and sterilization

Did people ever defy the laws and if so in what way? sterilization?

Loving V. Virginia ---> An interracial couple was arrested for being together

Marriage and sterilization

What were the consequences of defying the laws? sterilization?

  • Loving V. Virginia ---> exiled from Virginia for 25 years

  • marriages involving defective persons ---> up to 3 years of imprisonment

Marriage and sterilization

What types of people weren't allowed to marry? sterilization?

  • People with:

    • Degenerate hereditary traits

    • Feeblemindedness

    • Criminalism

    • Epilepsy

    • Blindness

    • Insanity

    • Blindness

    • Deafness

    • Deformity

Marriage and sterilization

How did the ideas of eugenics infiltrate the US federal government?

  • The academics took in the idea, and spread it through colleges and universities

  • The politicians accepted what the doctors told them

  • Then the public started to pick them up

  • Once there was full social support for the ideas, the government gained the ability to make it legislation

Marriage and sterilization

What limitations and requirements were set for sterilization?

  • Requirements:

    • All sterilization victims had to have a trial

    • Some were put in prisons, others in institutions

  • Limitations:

    •  There were no age limitations 

    • Anyone who was alive was in danger of being sterilized

    • All sterilization victims were given a trial 

      • Not fair trials; very biased and uncaring judges

        • Fred Aslin was not allowed to attend his trial

          • He was represented by a lawyer that had never met him (203)

Marriage and sterilization

What are specific examples of sterilization and marriage laws?

  • The aforementioned Lovings

  • Raymond Hudlow (201-203)

    • Was forcefully sterilized against his will

  • Carrie Buck and her sister (195-199)

    • Laughlin said she had the mind of a nine-year-old when she was nineteen

      • He had never met her

    • Her sister was sterilized and didn't even know it

Marriage and sterilization

How did these laws come to an end? laws?

  • The Germans had adopted eugenics ideas

    • At first, the United States approved of this and encouraged them (pg 244)

    • When WWII started, the Germans were enemies, and the US had to back-track and cover their support

      • Eugenicists lost popular appeal because they had been close with the enemy

  • It took until 1972 for the laws to be replaced (198)

Marriage and sterilization

What role did feelings/prejudice play in building support for these laws?

  • There was a stigma against feeblemindedness

    • Carrie Buck was a smart schoolgirl who showed promise (195)

    • She was raped and impregnated, and:

  •                 "When Carrie Buck became pregnant, the Dobbses [her guardians] tried to commit her to the Lynchburg Colony by claiming that she had appeared 'feebleminded' since the age of 10 or 11" (195).

    • This shows that people would do anything to alienate those who were called "feebleminded"

  • Marriage and sterilization

    What are the repercussions today? for these laws?

    • Many people are demanding apologies and compensation from the government for having forcefully sterilized them

      • Raymond Hudlow and the Aslins are two examples of this (203)

        • The state sent "regrets" to them

          • Not an apology/compensation

      • Leads to court cases

  • "Only one state official sent a letter of apology" (203)

  • Bibliography
    Bibliography for these laws?

    • Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, Inc.. Race and Membership in American Society: The Eugenics Movement. Brookline, Massachusettes: Harvard Facing History Project, 2002