Let’s look at history so it doesn’t repeat
I was putting together a PowerPoint for a disability history presentation I will be doing and came across some interesting, yet tragic, information I didn’t know. Did you know that between 1913 and 1961 there were over 3300 people in Kansas who were sterilized against their wills? Sterilization is a procedure to make a person unable to produce offspring. I knew that the Supreme Court in Buck V. Bell in an 8 to 1 decision confirmed the states right to forcibly sterilize people who they found unfit to have children but I didn’t realize how often it happened here in Kansas.
While 30 states at one time or another had sterilization laws on their books, only 5 states compulsorily sterilized more people then were sterilized here in Kansas. So what does that mean to us today? Because we don’t sterilize people against their will any more right? While it is true that we don’t sterilize people against their will anymore, we still use eugenics to make life and death decisions for people. Eugenics is seen as the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. We use prenatal screenings to learn before birth if a baby is going to have a disability so that parents can decide whether or not to give birth. We see in the news parents killing their disabled children because they perceive their disability means that life isn’t worth living.
On March first, Disability Community Day of Mourning, we will remember and mourn the over 400 people with disabilities who have been killed by family members who see having a disability as something worse than death. We should also remember those who were called defectives and forcibly sterilized. We must work to educate people that life with a disability is far better than having that life taken away.