Eugenics in Virginia - Another Story of Forced Sterilization
The story of eugenics in the Commonwealth of Virginia is rising from the darkness.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a hub about Jesse, a gentle man who was wrongfully committed to a state mental hospital, held in conditions that were more prison-like than therapeutic, and sterilized against his will because he wasn't educated.
One persons courage can be all that is needed to help another find their own. After a recent article in our local paper, another victim of the eugenics movement in the Commonwealth of Virginia has come forward. Meet Lewis, a 30 year veteran of the United States Marines.
The Story of Lewis
Lewis was sterilized by the Commonwealth of Virginia at the age of 13 - against his will. He was a resident of The Lynchburg Colony, a state run facility for the mentally infirmed.
Can you imagine the fear and trauma of one so young going through such a procedure? You might ask, why did this happen? Was he "retarded", a "delinquent", a "truant"? Lewis was none of the above. He was simply sick. Lewis had seizures, nothing more.
He began having seizures after being hit in the head with a rock at the age of 3. For about ten years, his family managed his seizures. His official diagnosis was epilepsy caused by an accidental head injury. Lewis occasionally missed school because of his seizures, but no one would ever accuse him of being stupid. Lewis was quite - normal.
While his father was doing some work at the Lynchburg Colony, Dr. George Arnold, the superintendent of The Colony heard the story of Lewis and his seizures and suggested he be brought to The Colony where he could be taken care of. At the age of 12, Lewis became a resident of the Colony. The year was 1941.
His admission evaluation revealed that he was "a fairly normal intelligent boy". Medical records from The Colony showed that Lewis had two seizures in the first few months there. That's it - two seizures.
Six months later, he was sterilized.
Now, here's the catch. Three weeks after being sterilized, Lewis was released to his mother. It seems the Commonwealth of Virginia had indeed "taken care of" Lewis.
Read Jesse's Story
- Jesse's Story - A Tragic Story of Forced Sterilization and Eugenics in Virginia
This is the story of Jesse, a victim of eugenics in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is a story of tragedy and hope. It is a story you will not forget.
Lewis may have been released three weeks after being sterilized but he was listed as "paroled" from The Colony, as if he were a criminal. He would live with families in the community for the next four years.
Like Jesse, Lewis was strong and had a destiny greater than what the Commonwealth of Virginia could steal from him. He served in the United States Marine Corp for 30 years. He fought in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and survived. Perhaps it is safe to say he survived a third war; a war perpetuated by the Commonwealth of Virginia against it's citizens. It was the war of eugenics, sanctioned by Virginia's Eugenics Law of 1924, a law that supported forced sterilization for the purpose of selective breeding and social engineering.
The Commonwealth of Virginia changed Lewis' life forever but it didn't keep him from success. He served his country honorably and has been a successful businessman as well. He is another testament to the strength of the human spirit.
Where Will It End?
The Christian Law Institute says it's time for Virginia to take responsibility for it's sordid actions against the victims of eugenics. They are asking for monetary compensation for the victims of forced sterilization by the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ex-Governor Mark Warner (D) has issued a formal apology to the victims but it's time for the State to do the right thing.
© 2012 Linda Crist