Sterilization

(redirected from Sterilizations)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia.
Related to Sterilizations: sterilise, surgical sterilization

Sterilization

A medical procedure where the reproductive organs are removed or rendered ineffective.

Legally mandated sterilization of criminals, or other members of society deemed "socially undesirable," has for some time been considered a stain on the history of U.S. law. The practice, also known as eugenics, originated early in the twentieth century. In 1914, a Model Eugenical Sterilization Law was published by Harry Laughlin at the Eugenics Records Office. Laughlin proposed the sterilization of "socially inadequate" persons, which translated as anyone "maintained wholly or in part by public expense." This would include the "feebleminded, insane, blind, deaf, orphans, and the homeless." At the time the model law was published, 12 states had enacted sterilization laws. Such laws were seen to benefit society since they presumably reduced the burden on taxpayers of maintaining state-run facilities. Eventually, these laws were challenged in court.

In Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), oliver wendell holmes jr. wrote the infamous opinion that upheld the constitutionality of a Virginia sterilization law, fueling subsequent legislative efforts to enact additional sterilization laws. By 1930, 30 states and Puerto Rico had passed laws mandating sterilization for many criminal or moral offenses. Nearly all of the states with such laws imposed mandatory sterilization of mentally defective citizens. Nineteen states required sterilization for parents of children likely to experience various disorders. Six states encouraged sterilization for individuals whose children might be "socially inadequate."

Finally, the Supreme Court struck down an Oklahoma law mandating involuntary sterilization for repeat criminals in Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 62 S. Ct. 1110, 86 L. Ed. 1655 (1942). Justice william o. douglas's opinion broadly defined the right to privacy to include the right to procreate, and concluded that the government's power to sterilize interfered with an individual's basic liberties.

By mid-century, legal attitudes had changed, and many state sterilization laws were held to be unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment prohibiting Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

Further readings

Carlson, Elof Axel. 2001. The Unfit: A History of a Bad Idea. Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Kevles, Daniel J. 1985. In the Name of Eugenics. New York: Knopf.

Smith, J. David, and K. Ray Nelson. 1999. The Sterilization of Carrie Buck. Far Hills, N.J.: New Horizon Press.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Keywords: surface sterilization, plant seed, silver nanoparticle, Alkanna tinctoria, Pinus nigra.
This book addresses Minnesota's history of sterilization through the lens of public welfare.
Between 1996 and 2000, an estimated 350,000 people 6 mostly impoverished indigenous women living in rural areas 6 underwent forced sterilization under a program introduced by then-President Alberto Fujimori, who is now in prison for human rights abuses.
Sterilization through the ligation of the fallopian tubes is a common form of contraception in the United States.
Logistic regression analyses and Wald tests were used to identify the social and demographic characteristics associated with sterilization regret.
The Alberta legislation was amended in 1937 to enlarge the category of characteristics for which sterilization was appropriate and consent unnecessary.
Shimla, Feb 6(ANI): The Himachal Pradesh government has launched a monkey sterilization drive in Shimla to curb the increasing population of the primate in the city.
Money won't alleviate the emotional toll of sterilization, but it can help survivors get "the right kind of professional counseling and live some semblance of a normal life," says Rep.
The answer is simple: Despite the development and introduction of many new contraceptive methods over the last 15 years, sterilization is the most widely used method in the world, in developing and developed countries alike.
Contraceptive sterilization, either by fallopian tube ligation or vasectomy, is an intrinsic evil, as is an abortion.
As for finding a solution to the population growth problem, there has been an important breakthrough: a nonsurgical sterilization procedure known as quinacrine sterilization (QS), invented by Dr.
Congress and the general public believed that the revised regulations would help protect women from involuntary sterilizations but accusations soon arose that the IHS was sterilizing women without their informed consent and was not following the HEW regulations.