Nov. 26, 2002 --
On Dec. 2, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber will formally apologize for Oregon's past forced sterilizations of more than 2,750 Oregonians during the last century. Oregon is the second state in the nation to offer such an apology; last spring, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner formally apologized for the forced sterilizations of 8,000 Virginians, most of whom were people with disabilities housed in the state's institutions (see "Could eugenics reappear? VA apologizes for role," Accessible Society E-Letter 5/72002.
A coalition of groups has been pushing for the apology since July, reports Dave Reynolds of Inclusion Daily Express.
"Most of those who underwent operations so that they could not have children did so because they had no choice under the state's sterilizations laws that were in effect from 1917 to 1983. Many had to go through the surgery before they were allowed to leave" institutions, Reynolds writes. "Thirty states and two Canadian provinces had similar laws on the books during much of the 20th century."
Oklahoma's law authorizing sterilization was the talk of inmates at its Eastern state hospital when it was first passed. Marion Marle Woodson, known as "Inmate, Ward 8," offers an exceptional account of the fears of his fellow inmates in his book "Beyond the Door of Delusion," published by the Macmillan Company in 1932. Read Chapter 14, "The Sterilization Spectre," online at The Ragged Edge website.
Inclusion Daily's coverage of Oregon's push for an official apology for forced sterilizations is online at http://www.InclusionDaily.com/news/institutions/ore/oreugenics.htm
Read an editorial from Eugene, Oregon's newspaper, the Register-Guard.
Information on the American Eugenics Movement and mandatory sterilization laws is available through the historical archives hosted by the DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (Read "Sterilization Laws" online at http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/eugenics. )