M.A. Candidate, Department of History, Miami University
2018 to 2019
Eugenic Expectations: How the Medical Economy Changed and Sustained Eugenic Ideology in Post-WWII America
Called a “Mississippi Appendectomy” in the south and “la operación” in Puerto Rico, coerced sterilization continued across America following World War II. Even after international condemnation of Nazi eugenic sterilizations, American state Eugenics Boards and hospitals continued sterilizing patients, particularly women. However, doctors often did not save records of procedures. I contend that an examination of the financial and interpersonal relationships between eugenics and later population control organizations provides an alternative picture of sterilization in America. After the war, resources devoted to medical facilities increased significantly. Eugenics organizations who wished to join the burgeoning medical economy discarded overtly racist eugenic language and embraced theories of population control. Although they echoed doctors’ emphasis on professionalization, these organizations continued to share finances and members with the eugenics movement. Even in groups with newly adopted rhetoric on population control, these connections reveal the continued influence of eugenic ideology on American medicine.
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