In the first half of the 20th century, California forcibly sterilized more than 20,000 people in state hospitals and other institutions, under a 1909 eugenics law that remained on the books for seven decades.
The victims, deemed by the state as “feeble-minded” or otherwise unfit to have children, were disproportionately women and racial minorities.
Now, the state is set to pay reparations to hundreds of survivors, as well as to victims who were involuntarily sterilized in state prisons well after the eugenics law was repealed in 1979. We’ll talk about this dark chapter of California history and its survivors’ quest for justice.
Alexandra Minna Stern, director, Sterilization and Social Justice Lab; professor, history, American culture and women’s and gender Ssudies, University of Michigan; author, “Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America”
Gabriela Solano, victim of forced sterilization while incarcerated in a California prison
Stacy Cordova Diaz, great-niece of Mary Franco, who was sterilized in 1934 at the age of 13
Cynthia Chandler, lawyer whose work exposing sterilizations in California prisons is featured in the documentary “Belly of the Beast”