Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University
Targeting America's Defectives: the Exclusion of Deaf People from State Sterilization Programs
Harry H. Laughlin, best known as the expert on sterilization in the United States, drafted a model sterilization law for states to consider adopting. Laughlin identified people with deafness as a target for sterilization. However, none of the states that adopted sterilization laws in the United States included the deaf on the list. What is the rationale for leaving deaf people out of state eugenic programs? Why was deafness, a condition typically a category eligible for sterilization, never actually in the law? This project seeks to explore the processes of excluding deaf people, and its rationale, as a target of sterilization.