Last week, we published STERILIZED, Reporter Jess Engebretson’s disturbing story of Rose Brooks and Lewis Reynolds, two of more than 60,000 men and women forcibly sterilized in the United States by doctors working in state hospitals. The doctors and nurses who performed the vasectomies and salpingectomies weren’t breaking the law.

Throughout the 20th Century, state legislators passed laws that allowed these surgical procedures. It was all part of the early 20th century eugenics movement. But, you might ask, how could this happen? How could the law deny tens of thousands of men and women the right to have children?

Life of the Law invited scholars who have studied eugenics to join us in the studios at KQED in San Francisco to talk about eugenics, past and present.

Osagie Obasogie is Professor of Law at UC Hastings San Francisco, author of Blinded by Sight.

Marcy Darnovsky is Executive Director at the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley.

Alexandra Minna Stern is Professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan.

Milton Reynolds is Senior Program Associate at Facing History and Ourselves.



This Bonus Episode was produced by Nancy Mullane and Jonathan Hirsch. Special thanks to Osagie Obasogie, Marcy Darnovsky, Alexandra Minna Stern, and Milton Reynolds for their contribution to this production.



No Mas Bebés: Online Conversation with Virginia Espino, Renee Tajima-Peña, and Alexandra Minna Stern

Rob Wilson Interviewed by Milton Reynolds: Online Conversation about Surviving Eugenics

Dorothy Roberts and Jonathan Marks Online Conversation about Nicholas Wade’s new book “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History”, and the endurance of scientific racism.

Alexandra Minna Stern and Corey Johnson Online Conversationabout sterilization abuse in California in the 20th and 21st centuries




This episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by grants from the Open Society Foundation, the Law and Society Association, the Proteus Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.

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