Full text: Problems in eugenics

Wagenen.Appendix.467 
impossible for him to have progeny. If it could be said that such a 
punishment would only be inflicted in the case of confirmed criminals, there 
would be strong reasons, founded on considerations of public welfare, 
which would justify its imposition. The danger, however, is that it might 
be inflicted upon one who is not an habitual criminal, who might have been 
a victim of circumstances, and who could be reformed. To deprive such an 
individual of all hope of progeny, would approach closely to the line of 
cruel and unusual punishment. There are cases where juvenile offenders 
have been rendered habitual criminals who subsequently became exemplary 
citizens. It is true that these cases are infrequent, and yet the very fact 
that they exist would require the exercise of extreme caution in determining 
whether such a punishment is constitutional.” 
“ Although not entirely certain as to this phase of the case, I have no 
doubt the imposition of such a penalty by a commission or a state board, 
or by any tribunal other than a court which is to determine the penailty for 
the offence of which one charged with crime has been convicted, would be 
unconstitutional. The determination that such an operation shall be per­ 
formed necessarily involves the infliction of a penalty. Unless justified by 
a conviction for crime, it would be a wanton and unauthorized act and an 
unwarranted deprivation of the liberty of the citizen. In order to justify 
it, the person upon whom the operation is to be performed has, therefore, 
the right to insist upon his right to due process of law. That right is 
withheld if vasectomy is directed, not by the court which imposes the 
penalty for the crime, but by a board of commission, which acts upon its 
own initiative, or which, under a general provision of law, undertakes to 
determine whether or not the operation shall 1 be performed on a specific 
individual. ” 
“ So in regard to the legislation which you now have under consideration, 
it is my firm opinion that the court which imposes the sentence upon the 
prisoner can alone impose the penalty of vasectomy, the prisoner being first 
accorded an opportunity to be heard by the court on the question as to 
whether or not such punishment shall be inflicted.” 
“ I fear that the public is not, as yet, prepared to deal with this 
problem; it requires education on the subject. I cannot, however, refrain 
from expressing the general opinion that the movement is one which is 
based on sound considerations. The difficulty is, however, in adopting 
proper safeguards to adequately protect those who are not hopelessly 
confirmed criminals, degenerates, or defectives.” 
4.—Sterilization in Indiana and California. 
It appears that there have been many more cases of sterilization of 
different types within institutions, for purely medical or for a combination 
of medical and Eugenic reasons, usually with the consent of the parents or 
guardians, without specific legislative authority, than have been performed 
under the statutes. Thus, in some of the institutions of Pennsylvania. hh 2
	        

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