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 Approximately 2,500 people in state custody were ultimately sterilized before the governor repealed all sterilization and related restrictive marriage laws in the 1970s.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. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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