U.S. eugenics legacy: Ruling on Buck sterilization still stands
Andrea Pitzer - June 24, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Paul Lombardo hadn’t planned on a three-decade detour when he stopped at a greasy-spoon restaurant for breakfast in February 1980. Lombardo, then a graduate student at the University of Virginia, picked up a newspaper to read as he ate his bacon and eggs.
And the rest is history, literally and figuratively. For almost 30 years, Lombardo has tried to uncover the full story of the wrongs he read about that day.
The article he had stumbled across was about two sisters sterilized in the 1920s by the state of Virginia for being “feeble-minded.” The younger sister hadn’t even known she’d had a tubal ligation. She didn’t learn until she was in her late 60s that the surgery hadn’t been for appendicitis. The older, more famous sister — Carrie Buck — was the subject of the now infamous lawsuit over the legality of the operation, Buck v. Bell, that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.