Eugenics & Contraception, part 16

In 1965 the US Supreme Court heard the case of Griswold v. Connecticut. The majority ruled that the 1879 anti contraception law in Connecticut violated what they deemed “right to privacy”. They argued for such a right on the basis of first, third, fourth, fifth, ninth, and fourteenth amendment rights. They determined married couples had a right to privacy which extended to their use of contraception. 

Married women were saved. Single gals, not so much. Eugenics theories of the 1940s and 1950s pathologized birth out of wedlock; their mothers were defective deviants with mental problems. The sexual revolution of the 1960s included a lot of unsafe sex. From 1945-1973 approximately four million single mothers were coerced or forced to separate from their babies, two million just in the 1960s. Adoption reform advocates call this the ” Baby Scoop” era. 

Social workers, nurses, Catholic institutions, and the Salvation Army all participated in the eugenic theft of millions of babies. Girls and young women who became pregnant were often sent “away” to a birthing home. The nicer ones had tuition fees. The ones for destitute women required the baby in exchange for room and board, and kicked the mothers out once they’d stopped nursing or the babe had been sold away. Many of the mothers developed adoption related PTSD. 

Married women of color sometimes had their babies stolen by hospital staff, who would lie and say the infant died. Women deemed “unfit” were sterilized without their knowledge or consent during c-sections, including disabled, criminal, poor, and immigrant women. Adoptive parents were portrayed as noble saviors of both the baby and the young woman’s future. Adoption agencies were raking in the profits from an unregulated international baby trade, and had no incentive to care what happened to the suppliers. 

The for profit adoption industry is still thriving. Today it exploits culturally different understanding of words like orphan and adoption to steal away babies, most often from Africa though China and former Soviet states have been popular past choices. The savior narrative is helped along with forged death certificates and stories crafted to appeal to bias: their parents were killed by communists, abiding by the one child policy, or died of AIDS. This is a form of eugenics, a racism that steals that most basic right to parent. 

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