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Health Law and Policy Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Columbia Law School

1986

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Full-Text Articles in Health Law and Policy

Sterilization Of Mentally Retarded Persons: Reproductive Rights And Family Privacy, Elizabeth S. Scott Jan 1986

Sterilization Of Mentally Retarded Persons: Reproductive Rights And Family Privacy, Elizabeth S. Scott

Faculty Scholarship

Sterilization is one of the most frequently chosen forms of contraception in the world; many persons who do not want to have children select this simple, safe, and effective means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy. For individuals who are mentally disabled, however, sterilization has more ominous associations. Until recently, involuntary sterilization was used as a weapon of the state in the war against mental deficiency. Under eugenic sterilization laws in effect in many states, retarded persons were routinely sterilized without their consent or knowledge.

Sterilization law has undergone a radical transformation in recent years. Influenced by a distaste for eugenic sterilization ...