The US' Surprising Eugenics Program Revealed

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Story at-a-glance -

  • 33 states had eugenics programs that operated during the 20th century
  • 65,000 Americans were sterilized, often without their knowledge or consent, during this time; you could be sterilized if you were an alcoholic, on welfare, labeled “feeble-minded,” or dubbed promiscuous
  • In one state even social workers could recommend that a person be sterilized, and this recommendation was often accepted
  • Only seven states have publicly acknowledged or apologized to victims, and only one state is taking steps to compensate those who are still living

By Dr. Mercola

When most people think of eugenics, the practice of "improving" the hereditary qualities of a race by controlled, selective breeding, they think of Nazi Germany and their attempts to exterminate certain ethnic groups.

But not only did the practice begin long before World War II, and end much later, it also was not confined to Nazi Germany.

In fact, eugenics was widely practiced in many countries, including in the United States as recently as the 1980s.

According to the North Carolina Governor's Eugenics Compensation Task Force Preliminary Report:

"The concept of eugenics was created in the late 1800s by British scientist Sir Francis Galton. The mindset at that time was to use genetic selection used in breeding thoroughbreds and other animals to create a class of people who were free of inferior traits. Indiana became the first state in the nation to pass a eugenics law in 1907."

In 1927, a landmark Supreme Court case known as Buck v. Bell gave further fuel to the eugenics movement, as the court actually ruled that the state of Virginia could legally sterilize teenager Carrie Buck, who had been sent to the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-minded because her foster parents deemed her a moral delinquent. It was following this ruling that the eugenics movement really took off in the United States.

Most U.S. States Had Sterilization Programs

In all, 33 states operated sterilization programs during the 20th century, at first targeting mostly people in mental institutions. As the years went by, the definition of what was "unfit to procreate" expanded to include not only the mentally ill but also:


People with epilepsy

People who were blind or deaf, or had other disabilities

Poor people on welfare

Women who were deemed promiscuous


People labeled "feeble-minded"

Children who were victims of rape

It's estimated that 65,000 Americans were sterilized under such programs, most often without their consent or knowledge. This may sound incredulous, but at the height of the sterilization program in North Carolina even social workers could make recommendations for who would be good candidates for sterilization, and those recommendations were almost always accepted.

According to the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation:

"North Carolina law during the eugenics period endorsed sterilization of people who had epilepsy, sickness, "feeblemindedness" and other disabilities. Eugenics was a popular movement, especially prior to the World War II, and other states had similar programs.

However, North Carolina was the only state that allowed social workers to petition for the sterilization of members of the public. These local social workers would petition the board to sterilize a person, and the board would make the final decision. Over 70% of North Carolina's sterilization victims were sterilized after 1945 in contrast to other states that conducted the majority of their sterilizations prior to World War II and 1945."

It was not uncommon for poor, often African American, women in rural areas to go to a hospital to give birth and be unknowingly sterilized, often while being told they were having their appendix removed. This happened even to children, including those who had become pregnant by rape.

As ABC News reported:

"In North Carolina, 85 percent of sterilization were performed on women as young as 9-years-old."

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A Government-Approved "Solution" for Poverty and Illegitimacy

The U.S. eugenics practice was not a movement carried out in the back woods or by a few corrupted individuals, it was a government-approved and in some cases suggested procedure. As stated by the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation:

"The concept or term eugenics refers to the intentional and selective breeding of humans and animals to rid the population of characteristics deemed unfit by those administering this practice. In the U.S., eugenics was carried out by individuals, nonprofit organizations and state governments that felt that human reproduction should be controlled.

… In the late 1940s, the Department of Public Welfare began to promote increased sterilization as one of several solutions to poverty and illegitimacy. In the 1950s, the N.C. Eugenics Board began to focus increasingly on the sterilization of welfare recipients, which led to a dramatic rise of sterilizations for African Americans and women that did not reside in state institutions. Prior to the 1950s, many of the sterilization orders primarily impacted persons residing in state institutions."

As reported by ABC News, to this day only seven of the 33 states that had sterilization programs have publicly acknowledged or apologized to victims, and only North Carolina has taken steps to compensate victims for damages. While no decision has yet been reached, the suggested compensation for deceptively taking away a person's ability to procreate is floating around $20,000 to $50,000 per living victim.

In 2011, most of the victims have since passed away, but their families are still living with the pain.

Opting Out of a History of Government Abuses

How could anyone ever conceive of doing something like this?  Well, that question may never be answered, as human exploitation and experimentation at the hands of the government not only existed well into the 20th century, it's still going on today. Right now, virtually everyone reading this is taking part in any number of unethical experiments you are not being told about, involving substances and technologies that stand to seriously harm your health:

These examples may not be as barbaric as forced sterilization, but they are no less deceitful in terms of the impact they can have on your health. You have taken the first step to opting out of these dangerous, population-wide experiments being thrust upon Americans and much of the world … and you did that by getting informed. Use your knowledge as your shield to help you make wise choices for you and your family in regard to food, medications and technology. 

+ Sources and References