Eugenics in California is a notable part of eugenics in America.
As an early leading force in the field of eugenics, California became the third state in the United States to enact a sterilization law. By 1921, California had accounted for 80% of the sterilizations nationwide. This continued until World War II, after which the number of sterilizations began to decrease, largely due to the fallout of Hitler’s eugenics movement. There were about 20,000 forced sterilizations in California between 1909 and 1963.
Records of eugenics practices in California are held at the following agencies and institutions. The records are still protected for confidentiality reasons.
In California, [eugenics] was always linked to the use of land: to agriculture and plant hybridization. Many of the powerful social workers, doctors, psychiatrists, and biologists, sought to hurt many of Californias Mexican, Indian, and Asian populations through the exclusionary laws that those scientists propose. In addition to the conquest to hurt the undesirables in the state, the California Eugenics plan also was a way to save the state money so they could eliminate the money the state spends on welfare and other programs that help the less fortunate. Eugenics takes take three forms in California:
Dolores Madrigal entered the University of Southern Californias medical center on October 12, 1973, in order to give birth to her second child. During her time in labor, she was given a consent form and coerced by doctors into having a tubal ligation, effectively sterilizing her. Madrigal insisted that No one at the medical center informed me that a tubal ligation operation was going to performed on me. No one at the medical center informed me of what a tubal ligation operation consists nor of its permanent effects (Enoch, 5). Rebecca M. Kluchin found while researching the case that Physicians preferred to perform cesarean sections and tubal ligations in tandem to minimize risks associated with infection and anesthesia, as well as to reduce medical costs. It appears that at this hospital physicians who performed emergency cesarean sections sometimes used the opportunity to persuade a woman to accept permanent contraception.
In July 1976 Madrigal sued the University of Southern California medical center, accompanied by Guadalupe Acosta, Estela Benavides, Consuelo Hermosillo, Georgina Hernandez, Maria Hurtado, Maria Figueroa, Rebecca Figueroa, Jovita Rivera, and Helena Orozco. Each of the nine other women who joined the class action lawsuit complained of similar proceedings. Together, these 10 chicanas decided to sue the USC medical center, contending that they had never given their informed consent to have the tubal ligation procedure performed. Karen Benker testified that poor minority women in L.A. County were having too many babies; that it was a strain on society; and that it was good that they be sterilized”.
Despite Benkers testimony and other corroborating evidence, Judge Jesse Curtis ruled in favor of the defendants, stating that there had been nothing more than a breakdown in communication between the patients and the doctors (Stern 1135). He went on to say that it was appropriate for an obstetrician to believe that a tubal ligation could help diminish overpopulation as long as they did not attempt to overpower the will of his patients.
In 1909 a eugenics law was passed in California allowing for state institutions to sterilize those deemed unfit or feeble-minded. As one of the leading states in forced sterilization victims, Californias sterilization procedures primarily took place in state mental hospitals. Dr. Leo Stanley was one of the first people to bring the eugenics movement to Californias prisons.
Stanley was San Quentin penitentiarys chief surgeon and was particularly interested in eliminating those deemed unfit for society. His avid eugenic-based surgeries were the first of its kind to been seen in a prison. Taking place between 1930 and 1959, the peak of the eugenics movement, Stanley’s surgeries were driven by the idea of purifying criminals. Through testicular surgeries, he believed he could cultivate socially fit individuals by replacing a prisoners testicles with those of a deceased male previously deemed socially fit. His practices spawned early ideologies of white manhood,” which stemmed from his belief that he could “help a new, ideal man emerge”.
Use of human and even animal testicles made Stanleys procedures highly unsuccessful and all around bizarre. His desire to restore social morality, along with his fascination with the endocrine system, fueled his research. Throughout the time of his procedures, criminals were believed to have something anatomically off that drove them to commit crimes. This belief inspired Stanley to explore the endocrine systems role in the criminology of a person. By persuading inmates that his testicular surgeries would produce favorable results in their sex lives he sterilized more than 600 prisoners by the end of his career. Stanleys prison work concluded upon the start of World War II where he served overseas, only to retire as a eugenic pioneer.
The Human Betterment Foundation (HBF) was established in Pasadena, California in 1928. Led by E.S. Gosney it researched with an aim to foster and aid constructive and educational forces for the protection and betterment of the human family in body, mind, character, and citizenship. In 1929 E.S. Gosney set up the Human Betterment Foundation and gathered twenty-five of the leading scientists, philanthropists, and community leaders to carry out research on the effects of sterilization for thirteen years (Valone). Gosney also used the HBF to distribute the product of his research, Sterilization for Human Betterment which attracted attention from the nearby university, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Robert A. Millikan, a leading faculty member and proponent of Caltech, was looking for potential donors to the university and shared many of Gosneys views in his work decided to join the HBF board.
Lois Gosney Castle and the board of trustees eventually liquidated the foundation and turned the proceeds over to Caltech. Thirteen years after publishing the 1929 report entitled “Sterilization for Human Betterment, the HBF continued to carry out research on the effects of sterilization and undertook widespread distribution of the report to individuals, public libraries, and schools. After the liquidation files were found in 1968, but since they contained personal medical information, they were legally closed to researchers.
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Eugenics in California – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia