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SR-20 (2003-2004)

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SR20:v98#DOCUMENT

Enrolled  June 30, 2003

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2003–2004 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Resolution No. 20


Introduced  by  Senator Alpert, Kuehl, Ortiz, Scott

May 15, 2003


Relative to eugenics.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SR 20, Alpert.

WHEREAS, The goal of the eugenics movement of the twentieth century was racial betterment through the elimination of hereditary disorders or genetic defects by means of sterilization, selective breeding, and social engineering; and
WHEREAS, The eugenics movement gained popularity in the United States around the turn of the century, with Indiana enacting the nation’s first eugenics-based sterilization law in 1907; and
WHEREAS, In the United States Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bell (1927) 274 U.S. 200, Carrie Buck sued to overturn a Virginia state law that allowed state-mandated sexual sterilization of persons that the state deemed “imbeciles” or “feebleminded”; and
WHEREAS, In a landmark 8-to-1 decision concerning that case, the United States Supreme Court upheld the sterilization law; and
WHEREAS, More than 30 states enacted similar eugenics laws; and
WHEREAS, In 1909, California passed a eugenics-related law permitting the involuntary asexualization of inmates of state hospitals and prisons; and
WHEREAS, Under California’s eugenics law, and subsequent amendments to it, inmates of state hospitals and institutions for the mentally retarded, certain prison inmates who were considered sexual or moral “degenerates” or were serving life sentences, and epileptics could be involuntarily sterilized so that they would not produce similarly disabled offspring; and
WHEREAS, In practice, the eugenics laws were used to target virtually any human shortcoming or illness, including alcoholism, drug addiction, pauperism, syphilis, and criminal behavior; and
WHEREAS, Regrettably, between 1909 and 1964, an estimated 20,000 Californians were sterilized, and some 65,000 men and women were sterilized nationwide; and
WHEREAS, Regrettably, eugenics laws were frequently used as a respectable, “scientific” veneer to cover activities of those who held blatantly racist views; and
WHEREAS, The “science” of eugenics has since been discredited; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, That it hereby expresses its profound regret over the state’s past role in the eugenics movement and the injustice done to thousands of California men and women; and be it further
Resolved, That this resolution addresses past bigotry and intolerance against the persons with disabilities and others who were viewed as “genetically unfit” by the eugenics movement; and be it further
Resolved, That all individuals must honor human rights and treat others with respect regardless of race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic status, disability, or illness; and be it further
Resolved, That the Senate urges every citizen of the state to become familiar with the history of the eugenics movement, in the hope that a more educated and tolerant populace will reject any similar abhorrent pseudoscientific movement should it arise in the future, and be it further
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.