ILNews

Court discusses Indiana's 1907 eugenic sterilization law

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court will host an educational seminar Wednesday about how Indiana adopted the first eugencial sterilization law in the world 100 years ago.

A panelist discussion and presentation about the law will be from 3 to 4:15 p.m. in the Supreme Court ;s courtroom at the statehouse.

Indiana passed the law in 1907, and subsequently similar laws were adopted in more than 30 states and a dozen countries worldwide. The Indiana Supreme Court overturned the state statute in 1921, but a new law was enacted in 1927 following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that endorsed eugenic sterilization. Approximately 2,500 people in state custody were ultimately sterilized before the governor repealed all sterilization and related restrictive marriage laws in the 1970s.

But in a 1978 case, Stump v. Sparkman, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld judicial immunity for an Indiana judge whose ex parte order led to the sterilization of a 15-year-old girl.

This CLE course will involve a lawyer, bioethicist, and a physician who will discuss this still controversial topic of involuntary sterilization in historical context; they will also reflect on how new insights from the Human Genome project have affected it.

This presentation will also be broadcast online at www.in.gov/judiciary/webcast under the "special events" link. The sold-out event is free, but standby reservations are being accepted. A total of 1.3 CLE credit hours have been approved, which is part of the ongoing Indiana Supreme Court Legal History Lecture Series. Information is available by contacting Dr. Elizabeth Osborn at (317) 232-2550.

A public dedication ceremony for a state historical marker to commemorate the law will be at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the east lawn of the Indiana State Library and Historical Building, 140 N. Senate Ave. A free symposium titled "Indiana Eugenics: History and Legacy, 1907-2007" will also be conducted that day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the library.
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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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