One of my favorite priests cited a 1927 case in a recent homily, and I was totally surprised that I had not heard of it until now. It is the case of Buck v. Bell (274 US 200). This case made it legal for a physician to forcibly sterilize a patient of a mental institution without the patient's consent.
It is in the best interest of the patients and of society that an inmate under his care should be sexually sterilized, he may have the operation performed upon any patient afflicted with hereditary forms of insanity, imbecility, etc., on complying with the very careful provisions by which the act protects the patients from possible abuse. (274 US 200, 206)
Here, the state is determining what is in the best interest of the individual with her consent and against her protests. Nothing is said about the patient's own desires in the sterilization, but only that it must not be done in order that abuse may be perpetuated upon the person because of the sterilization. They never mention that this involuntary sterilization in itself is an abuse of human rights. By sterilizing a woman, nothing is done to protect her from an abuser, but it only serves to protect the abuser from being found out. Sterilization also provides her with additional psychological and emotional trauma.
The facts of the case stated that the Carrie Buck is the daughter of a feeble-minded woman and mother of a feeble-minded daughter. Therefore, her feeble-mindedness is hereditary and she ought not reproduce any longer. These facts, which were upheld by the court, state the following:
[Carrie Buck] is the probable potential parent of socially inadequate offspring, likewise afflicted, that she may be sexually sterilized without detriment to her general health and that her welfare and that of society will be promoted through her sterilization. (274 US 200, 207)
So too with Project Prevention's program. This program was begun in 1998 by Mrs. Barbara Harris after she suffered defeat in California when she attempted to passed legislation that would have made birth control or sterilization mandatory for drug addicts and alcoholics in that state. Upon this failure, Mrs. Harris delved into the grassroots, seeking a pity party from those who see the worst evil in this world as a child who she thinks should have never even been conceived.
"Nothing positive comes from an addict giving birth numerous times only to
have her children taken away," said Mrs. Harris. She claims expertise in this area because she has adopted four of eight siblings born of a drug addicted mother. She claims that having to give one's child up do to inability to raise them as some that "only sends the addict deeper into her addiction because of the guilt felt in losing yet another child."
Sadly, Mrs. Harris has many friends in her eugenics campaign. John Novick is a major "investor" in this campaign, and he stated, "Long term birth control is the only proven means of preventing substance-exposed births."
I'm sorry Mr. Novick, that is quite an ignorant statement. If you want to help a woman who is addicted, don't pay her to destroy her life even more; give her hope and healing through resources to heal her from the pains of her past and the pains of her addictions.
Perhaps the last line from the Nazi-like predecessor of Project Prevention, the Buck v. Bell case, speaks the most of the backwardness of this program. According to what they are saying, the natural course of fertility is really this dangerous to society!
"The operations enable those who otherwise must be kept confined to be returned to the world, and thus open the asylum to others, the equality aimed at will be more nearly reached" (274 US 200, 208).
This, too, is quite an ignorant statement.