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Are forced sterilization and compulsory vaccination historically connected in the USA?

May 26, 2015

Do you know medical history of the past 100 years? Did you know the eugenic theory (purifying the human race through medical procedures and other tactics- a Darwinian idea) was very popular among credible scientists and lawmakers before the Holocaust? That 60,000 people were sterilized thanks to the passing of eugenics laws in the United States? Furthermore, did you know that compulsory vaccination was used as a legal justification for compulsory sterilization?

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., in the 1926 Supreme Court Case Buck vs. Bell, which legitimized Virginia’s sterilization laws, delivered the court’s opinion, “It is better for all the world if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes.” (

I do hope we never find our country’s leaders making such statements justifying eugenics ever again. Don’t you? Some medical procedures (vaccination) may reduce the incidence of complications from measles, complications which cause financial expense to society (this, in itself, is a complicated claim). Other medical procedures (sterilization) may reduce the presence of people with mental retardation, people which cause financial expense to society. Such medical procedures may be encouraged by scientists. Yet, the fact that there may be societal or individual benefits to be gained from vaccination or sterilization does not justify making either procedure compulsory. Is this not the “land of the free?”

These are considerations that we should all keep in mind as we and our lawmakers debate the future of religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions in our states.

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