“Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Those sad words are the conclusion of Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1927 Supreme Court opinion which led to the involuntary sterilization of Carrie Buck, an otherwise healthy 18-year-old girl. The Court upheld the right of the Commonwealth of Virginia to sterilize the “feeble-minded.” She was placed on a table by an agent of the state, who made an abdominal incision and cut her Fallopian tubes. One of the terrible ironies of Carrie’s life is that she already had given birth to a daughter, Vivian, who turned out to be a good student, once making the honor roll. Vivian, too, was sterilized. She died at the age of eight.
Holmes argued, “We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”
Margaret Higgins Sanger would have agreed. The founder of the American Birth Control League (later to become Planned Parenthood), she was a negative eugenicist, that is, she advocated reducing the fertility of “dysgenic” groups. She wrote, “The undeniably feeble-minded should, indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind."
You know, it strikes me that from God’s point of view, we’re all broken and dysfunctional. Human life is messy. One of the things I love most about Jesus Christ is that his gift of restored everlasting life is for all, including the “feeble-minded.” I can’t wait to see my disabled friends from earth fully physically restored in heaven.