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South Carolina Governor Apologizes For State's Eugenics Past
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 8, 2003

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA--Governor Jim Hodges has formally apologized on behalf of his state for forcibly sterilizing hundreds of people under South Carolina's eugenics laws during the last century.

"On behalf of the people of South Carolina, I apologize for decades of suffering and pain caused by eugenics," Hodges said Wednesday.

"Today, I want to acknowledge the great injustice done to more than 250 men and women when the State of South Carolina permitted involuntary sterilization for decades."

Between 1935 and 1985, South Carolina allowed mental health and prison officials to order surgical sterilization on people diagnosed with "insanity, idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy."

Thirty-two other states and two Canadian provinces had similar laws on their books during the popular eugenics movement.

Eugenics was based on the racist belief that society would be improved through "proper breeding". The "science" behind eugenics was disproved, but not before more than 60,000 Americans were forcibly sterilized. Most were people with mental retardation and mental illness living in state-operated institutions. More women were sterilized than men. More blacks were sterilized than whites.

Hodges is the fourth governor to officially apologize for a state's eugenics past. Governors from Virginia, Oregon and North Carolina submitted apologies last year.

Related resources:
"Virginia's Eugenics Legacy" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
"Oregonians Get Apology For Sterilizations" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
"Image Archives On The American Eugenics Movement" (Dolan DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)

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Reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express disability rights news service.
© Copyright 2004 Inonit Publishing. Please do not reprint, publish or distribute without permission.

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