vaccinations eugenics

Are Proposed Forced Vaccination Laws Comparable to Eugenics Forced Sterilization Laws in the U.S.?

Health Impact News Editor Comments

Constitutional attorney Jonthan Emord has written an excellent commentary about current legislative efforts to remove vaccine exemptions, and increase forced vaccinations against people’s wills. Emord writes:

The current rush to revoke laws allowing conscientious dissent from compulsory vaccination, including encumbering or revoking grounds based on religious or medical grounds, are a return to a very ugly era of elitism, one of gross intrusion into rights of personal autonomy and liberty that left us only a few decades ago.

Emord reminds us that it was not that long ago when “eugenics” was a popular “scientific fact” accepted by the majority in our society, and used to pass state laws forcing sterilization of people considered “genetically unfit” for society.

The most famous case was Buck vs. Bell, a Virginia statute which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927. The Court’s decision, delivered by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., included the infamous phrase “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Upholding Virginia’s sterilization statute provided the green light for similar laws in 30 states, under which an estimated 65,000 Americans were sterilized without their own consent or that of a family member.

EugenicsArchive.org [2] gives more information about this time period in U.S. history:

Although Indiana passed the first eugenic sterilization statute in 1907, this and other early laws were legally flawed and did not meet the challenge of state court tests. To remedy this situation, Harry Laughlin of the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) at Cold Spring Harbor designed a model eugenic law that was reviewed by legal experts. The Virginia statute of 1924 was closely based on this model.

The plaintiff of the case, Carrie Buck, and her mother Emma, had been committed to the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded in Lynchburg, Virginia. Carrie and Emma were both judged to be “feebleminded” and promiscuous, primarily because they had both had borne children out of wedlock. Carrie’s child, Vivian, was judged to be “feebleminded” at seven months of age. Hence, three generations of “imbeciles” became the “perfect” family for Virginia officials to use as a test case in favor of the eugenic sterilization law enacted in 1924.

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