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July 9, 1932


JAMA. 1932;99(2):143-144. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02740540051021

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The Sterilization of Defectives  A conference on voluntary eugenic sterilization has been held by the Eugenics Society. Dr. R. L. Langdon-Down, an authority on mental deficiency, said that it was not easy to determine what proportion of defectives was due to heredity. But even if sterilization could reduce the incidence of defect to only a slight degree, that was sufficient reason for asking that the legal obstacles to voluntary sterilization be removed. Medical opinion was almost unanimous that certain cases of mental deficiency were preventable by this means and by no other. Sir Thomas Horder said that sterilization differed from birth control not in principle but only in efficiency. But in the present state of the law if the operation was performed on other grounds than in the interest of the patient's health, the surgeon would be in danger of an action for damages, notwithstanding that the full consent or