Sterilization or Genocide? Eugenics in North Carolina: Background information when reading The Unfit Heiress

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The Unfit Heiress

The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt

by Audrey Farley

The Unfit Heiress by Audrey Farley X
The Unfit Heiress by Audrey Farley
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    Apr 2021, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
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About this Book

Sterilization or Genocide? Eugenics in North Carolina

This article relates to The Unfit Heiress

In The Unfit Heiress, Audrey Clare Farley sets the case of San Francisco socialite Ann Cooper Hewitt against the backdrop of the American eugenics movement. In the age of eugenics, which lasted approximately from the 1920s to the 1940s, 30 states embraced laws allowing involuntary sterilization. North Carolina was one of the worst, partly because it continued its eugenics program into the 1970s, while eugenics had fallen out of favor in most states after World War II. The state sterilized over 7,000 people, including rape and incest victims, Black girls and poor white ones.

Latoya Adams, whose aunt, Deborah Blackmon, became a victim of sterilization in 1972, observed, "These people were dehumanized. They treated them like animals." The documents in Blackmon's file read: "Final diagnoses: Mental retardation, severe. Eugenic sterilization. Total abdominal hysterectomy." Blackmon was only 14 years old at the time.

In the late 1920s, when eugenic sterilizations began in North ...

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