“If I could have had a family, I probably would have had two or three children. I think about that all the time. And sometimes I just cry because the people done me wrong. I cry when I see a lady pregnant, and I know she’s going to have a baby”
— Lewis Reynolds
Beginning in 1907, states in the US began to forcibly sterilize over 60,000 Americans — people considered by scientists to be “unfit” — the mentally ill, the disabled, the morally suspect. Now, a few states are trying to figure out what they owe to the program’s survivors.
Sterilized was reported by Jess Engebretson and edited by Annie Aviles with sound design and production by Shani Aviram. Special thanks to Michael Scholar Jr. for voice acting on this episode. The team had production support from Alyssa Bernstein, Jonathan Hirsch, Ashley Cleek, Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle and Nancy Mullane.
- Eugenic Sterilization Laws by Paul Lombardo, University of Virginia
- Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court and Buck v Bell by Paul Lombardo
- Disability, Eugenics and the Culture Wars, by Paul Lombardo
- NY Times Book Reviews 3/20, 2016: Imbeciles, The Supreme Court, American Eugenics and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck, by Adam Cohen and Illiberal Reformers, Race, Eugenics and American Economics in the Progressive Era By Thomas C. Leonard
- Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America by Alexandra Minna Stern
- “When California Sterilized 20,000 of its Citizens,” by Alexandra Minna Stern
- Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in 50 American States
- Race and Membership in American History: The Eugenics Movement
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 and the National Science Foundation.
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