Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Susan Castagnetto

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Rights Information

© 2013 Samantha E. Abril


Although, the histories of forced sterilizations and eugenics practices have been all but forgotten by most, these subjects gained national attention again when the state of North Carolina repealed its sterilization law in 2003. The history of forced sterilization in the United States began with a eugenics based demand to wipe out populations that were constructed as inferior. The evolution of who was sterilized shifted in accordance to changing national social perception of who was ‘unfit’ to reproduce, from the developmentally disabled to ‘immoral’ and ‘irresponsible’ women.

North Carolina has also taken unprecedented steps towards providing reparations for the living victims of the statute. The history, current sentiments, and unique components of compulsory sterilization in North Carolina help to illustrate why the government has taken such proactive steps in offering restitution while others have not.

What happened in North Carolina and throughout the eugenics movement in the United States are poignant examples of the power of social constructions.

Social constructions allows those with power, in this case the state, to enforce them, using policy and other mechanisms, to divide up members of society. With this power to divide groups of people comes the ability to use this constructed sense of otherness as a means to control and mistreat these populations.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.