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Voluntary Sterilization of the Mentally Retarded

  • Charles H. Baron

Abstract

It may be that the era of explicit compulsory sterilization is slowly drawing to a close. The effort to purify the American gene pool through sterilization of misfits which began in earnest at the turn of the Century seems to be losing much of its political base. Of course, the United States Supreme Court’s favorable holding as to the constitutionality of the compulsory sterilization of Carrie Buck on the ground that “(t)hree generations of imbeciles are enough” (1) has never been explicitly overruled. But compelling arguments have been made (2) that the case would not be decided the same way today under the strict equal protection and due process standards which have been developed in the areas of marriage and procreation in the 50 years since the decision in Buck v. Bell. Moreover, the last 50 years have also seen a significant change in scientific opinion regarding the degree of threat which reproduction by “misfits” poses to our society (3, 4). As a result, one author has claimed in a recent article that “(w)hile ethical and psychological assessments of sterilization may differ, few would deny that the operation should be performed only upon those who knowingly consent to it” (2).

Keywords

Good Interest Spinal Fusion Operation United States Supreme Mentally Retard Proxy Consent 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles H. Baron
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston College Law SchoolUSA

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