Saturday, August 4, 2018

Uncle Sam was an Abortionist

The government has a history of taking over people’s reproductive future.  In the first half of the twentieth century, the United States promoted efforts to “breed better human beings”. The pseudoscience,  called eugenics included forced abortions, sterilization, and other methods of family planning.

When the Nazis went on trial after World War II, for war crimes in Nuremberg, they justified their mass sterilizations by citing the United States as their inspiration.  And just as the rich and powerful promoted the Nazi Holocaust, in the United States, eugenics was driven by the elite. 

Its supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill; Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; activist Margaret Sanger founder of Planned Parenthood; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; novelist H. G. Wells;  playwright George Bernard Shaw; and hundreds of others.  It was approved by Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis, who ruled in its favor.   

Nobel Prize winners gave their support, as well as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. Eugenics was even introduced into the curriculum at high schools and universities. Work was done at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford and Johns Hopkins.

Southwestern State Hospital, originally called Southwestern Lunatic Asyluis 
now called Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute

Eugenicists believed there was a gene pool... homosexuals, Negroes, foreigners, immigrants, Jews, degenerates, the unfit, and the "feeble minded... leading to the deterioration of the human race was widely shared: 

H.G. Wells spoke against "ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens." 

Theodore Roosevelt said, "Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind." 

George Bernard Shaw said, “only eugenics could save mankind.” 

To Preserve Racial Integrity

Even though the eugenic description of human life reflected political and social prejudices rather than scientific facts, eugenicists effectively lobbied for social legislation to keep racial and ethnic groups separate, to restrict immigration from southern and eastern Europe, and to sterilize people considered "genetically unfit."

In 1907, Indiana became the first state to pass eugenics legislation, followed soon after in 1909 by Washington and California. More than 30 states would enact eugenics legislation.  Most operations were performed  to prevent reproduction, but Oregon and North Dakota had laws which called for the use of castration.

Beginning with Connecticut in 1896, many states enacted marriage laws with eugenic criteria, prohibiting anyone who was "epileptic, imbecile or feeble-minded" from marrying. Eugenics were applied to bring about more restrictive state laws banning interracial marriage: the so-called anti-miscegenation laws. Eugenicists believed that race mixing produced “mongrels” and would lead to the decline of the white race. 

The New Virginia Law to Preserve Racial Integrity was enacted in 1924 and provided racial definitions  terms like mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, and sambo to identify mixed races and prevent intermarriage. 

The first American entity associated officially with eugenics, the Immigration Restriction League, founded in 1894,  lobbied for a literacy test for immigrants. Eugenic theories were tied deeply to intelligence levels as predicted by IQ tests. In fact, IQ tests that are still in use today have their roots in the eugenics community. Literacy test bills were vetoed by Presidents in 1897, 1913 and 1915; eventually, President Wilson's second veto was overruled by Congress in 1917.

Eugenicists were then able to influence  the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924. The Act restricted the immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans as well as prohibited the immigration of Middle Easterners, East Asians and Asian Indians. 

                                                            Calvin Coolidge signs The Immigration Act of 1924

President Coolidge wrote:

"These are racial considerations too grave to be brushed aside for any sentimental reasons.  Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend.  The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides.  Quality of mind and body suggests that observance of ethnic law is a great necessity to a nation as immigration law."

The Act also identified other undesirables banned from entering the country, including homosexuals, idiots, feeble-minded persons, criminals, epileptics, insane persons, alcoholics, professional beggars, all persons mentally or physically defective, polygamists, and anarchists. It barred all immigrants over the age of sixteen who were illiterate; people from eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands.  The Act governed American immigration policy for 40 years, until the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

Sterilization rates across the country were relatively low until a1927 Supreme Court legitimized the forced sterilization of patients at a Virginia home for the mentally retarded. The number of sterilizations performed per year increased until another Supreme Court case, Skinner v. Oklahoma, 1942, complicated the legal situation by ruling that sterilization of criminals could not exempt white-collar criminals.

After World War II, public opinion turned against eugenics and sterilization programs because of the connection with the genocidal policies of Nazi Germany. In the end, over 65,000 individuals were sterilized in 33 states under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States. 

The Oregon Board of Eugenics, later renamed the Board of Social Protection, existed until 1983, with the last forcible sterilization occurring in 1981. 

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