Complete Video Now Online for Eugenics in California: A Legacy of the Past?
Posted by Center for Genetics and Society on September 28th, 2012
A video recording is now available of this public event, held at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law on August 28, 2012.
much of the 20th century, California was at the forefront of eugenic
ideology and practices in the United States, and holds the dubious
distinction of being the state with the highest number of eugenic
sterilizations performed under the authority of law – some 20,000
procedures between 1909 and the mid-1950s. Coerced sterilizations
continued in public hospitals into the 1970s, and it has recently come
to light that in very recent years, women prisoners in California have
been sterilized without their consent or knowledge. Today, California is
a leader in research and services related to human genomics and
assisted reproductive technologies. Speakers at this public event considered the long history of eugenics in California and explored
continuities and discontinuities in the uses and misuses of genetic
ideas and practices.
Welcome: Dean Christopher Edley, Berkeley School of Law
Moderator: Troy Duster, Chancellor’s Professor and Senior Fellow at the Warren Institute for Law and Social Policy, UC Berkeley
Eugenic Sterilization in California: Stories and Statistics
Miroslava Chávez-García, University of California at Davis and Alexandra Minna Stern, University of Michigan
provide an overview of the patterns of the 20,000 eugenic
sterilizations performed in California state institutions from 1909 to
1979, with close attention to race, gender, class, and diagnosis. We
will also highlight stories of sterilization victims and the ways in
which they attempted to challenge the state's authority to control and
contain their reproductive rights. As we will demonstrate, the process
had a devastating impact on the victims.
¿Más Bebés? (documentary film)
Renee Tajima-Peña, University of California at Santa Cruz; Virginia
Espino, University of California at Santa Cruz, and Kate Trumbull,
The feature-length documentary ¿Más Bebés?
(working title) investigates the history of Mexican American women who
allege they were coercively sterilized at Los Angeles County-USC Medical
Center during the 1960s and 70s. Many spoke no English, and testified
that they were prodded into tubal ligations during active labor. The
sterilizations triggered the 1978 class action lawsuit, Madrigal v.
Quilligan, and a protest campaign that galvanized the Chicana feminist
Eugenics in California Women’s Prisons Today
Kimberly Jeffrey and Courtney Hooks, Justice Now
Justice Now has been working collaboratively with people in
California’s women’s prisons to document how prisons violate the
international right to family and function as a tool of reproductive
oppression. Presenters will place a spotlight on personal experience
with as well as the systemic pattern of destruction of reproductive
capacity of women of color and gender variant people in California
women’s prisons through several state-sanctioned policies, including
forced and coerced sterilizations (e.g. the illegal and routine
sterilization of hundreds of people in prison during labor and
delivery), and other violations of safe motherhood and reproductive
Should We Worry About a New Eugenics?
Marcy Darnovsky, Center for Genetics and Society
fast-developing genetic and reproductive technologies offer significant
benefits, but can also be misused in ways that exacerbate existing
inequalities and create entirely new forms of injustice. California, a
hotbed of eugenic advocacy in the last century, is today a center of
biotechnology research and commercial development and the assisted
reproduction sector, as well as home to some troubling
techno-enthusiastic ideologies. Our efforts to confront California's
eugenic history can help prevent these dynamics from veering toward a
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Genetics and Society and the UC Berkeley Haas Diversity Research Center, the UC Berkeley School of Law, as well as the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, American Cultures Center, Disability Studies Program, Disabled Students Program, Center for Reproductive Rights and Justice, and the Center for Race and Gender.
Co-coordinators: Marcy Darnovsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) Alexandra Minna Stern (email@example.com)
Advisory committee: Miroslava Chávez-García, Troy Duster, Tony Platt, Sue Schweik