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Eugenic NationFaults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America$
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Alexandra Minna Stern

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285064

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285064.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

“I Like to Keep My Body Whole”

“I Like to Keep My Body Whole”

Reconsidering Eugenic Sterilization In California

(p.111) Chapter 4 “I Like to Keep My Body Whole”
Eugenic Nation

Alexandra Minna Stern

University of California Press

This chapter examines the patterns and experiences of eugenic sterilization in state institutions, building on the most recent scholarship on eugenics, race, and reproduction in California. From 1909, the year California passed the country's third eugenic sterilization law, until 1979, when this statute was repealed—twenty thousand inmates and patients in state hospitals and homes were sterilized on the basis of diagnoses that included but were not limited to feeblemindedness, idiocy, dementia praecox, and psychosis. Combining quantitative and qualitative analysis and focusing on the period 1935–44 when sterilizations reached their apogee, this chapter mobilizes a data set of eight thousand sterilization recommendations to highlight salient trends such as elevated rates of the sterilization of Spanish-surnamed patients, a pronounced pattern of the sterilization of adolescent female Latinas who were classified as feebleminded and sexually promiscuous, and the greater likelihood that inmates in psychiatric rather than feebleminded homes would refuse and protest sterilization.

Keywords:   eugenic sterilization, California, feeblemindedness, idiocy, dementia praecox, psychosis

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