header by Emerson Taymor, 2005
9. The Twenties
14. The Sixties
Indiana Sterilization Statute (1907)
THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF INDIANA, that on and after the passage of this act it shall be compulsory for each and every institution in the state, entrusted with the care of confirmed criminals, idiots, rapists and imbeciles, to appoint upon its staff, in addition to the regular institutional physician, two (2) skilled surgeons of recognized ability, whose duty it shall be, in conjunction with the chief physician of the institution, to examine the mental and physical condition of such inmates as are recommended by the institutional physician and board of experts and the board of managers. If in the judgment of this committee of experts procreation is inadvisable, and there is no probability of improvement of the mental and physical condition of the inmate, it shall be lawful for the surgeons to perform such operation for the prevention of procreation as shall be decided safest and most effective. But this operation shall not be performed except in cases that have been pronounced unimproveable. Provided that in no case the consultation fee be more than three dollars to each expert, to be paid out of the funds appropriated for the maintenance of such institution.
These laws were later ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court in Buck v Bell (1927), 8-1, with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes notoriously writing that a Virginia sterilization law was both legal and necessary, as otherwise the nation was in danger of "being swamped with incompetence....Three generations of imbeciles are enough."