Bills and Laws
This letter by Gay summarizes the state of eugenics and alludes to the states which have enacted sterilization laws but concedes that an educational program is the most practical means to promote eugenic policy. The article was reprinted as “Practical aspects of eugenics” in the Boston medical and surgical journal a few weeks later.
A bill for the sterilization of inmates of prisons and insane hospitals “by whom procreation would be inadvisable” was introduced into the Connecticut legislature by Representative Wilbur F. Tomlinson in February, 1909. The bill passed both the House and Senate in July and was approved by the Governor on August 12, 1909. Connecticut was one of the first states to adopt such a law, following Indiana in 1907.
In a 1910 letter to George W. Gay, Dr. William Henry Carmalt of New Haven stated, “Unless such a law is in the hands of those willing to accept the responsibilities of their positions, it becomes a dead letter. I hope the next Legislature can be induced to put the carrying out of the law in more earnest hands. The real trouble, however, with the whole matter is the absence of statistics in the genealogical histories of inmates, principally of insane asylums and almshouses, for it [is] from them rather than the prisons that the degenerates breed.”
Harry H. Laughlin was director of Eugenics Record Office for thirty years and assisted Charles B. Davenport in first publishing the Eugenics Research Association’s Eugenical news to promote the activities of the Office. In 1922, he compiled and published this report on sterilization laws in each state and here provides the text for standard and model state laws for scientific sterilization.