Eugenics to Make a Comeback in Louisiana?

John LaBruzzoThe New Orleans Times-Picayune reported on September 24 that a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives named John LaBruzzo “is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied” in order to contain the state’s welfare costs. The article says that LaBruzzo is worried that “people receiving government aid such as food stamps and publicly subsidized housing are reproducing at a faster rate than more affluent, better-educated people who presumably pay more tax revenue to the government.”

He said his program would be voluntary. It could involve tubal ligation, encouraging other forms of birth control or, to avoid charges of gender discrimination, vasectomies for men. It also could include tax incentives for college-educated, higher-income people to have more children, he said.

The district LaBruzzo’s represents “is the same district that sent white supremacist David Duke to the Legislature in 1989″ according to the article.

Eugenics was, of course, first proposed by English polymath Francis Galton in the 1860s. It became extremely popular in the United States in the early part of the 20th century as part of a strong wave of anti-immigration sentiment. Eugenicists succeeded in having laws passed in many states that mandated compulsory sterilization of the mentally ill and mentally disabled. Outrage at the Nazi eugenic practices during the 1930s and 1940s undermined popular support for eugenics in the US, though sterilization laws remained on the books in many states until the 1960s. LaBruzzo was born in 1970.

Tip o’ the hat to my colleague, Fred Weizmann, for bringing this article to my attention.

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About Christopher Green

Professor of Psychology at York University (Toronto). Former editor of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Creator of the "Classics in the History of Psychology" website and of the "This Week in the History of Psychology" podcast series.

5 thoughts on “Eugenics to Make a Comeback in Louisiana?

  1. La Bruzzo trying to use funding to control the masses is old school eugenics. Cyber-eugenics as explained in Bernard Amador’s book Cyber-eugenics: The Neural Code tells how advances in cognitive science and the cracking of the neural code may be the future direction of a modern day eugenics movement where families will no longer have to be paid or women alter their bodies. Technology will be used in conjunction with social engineering to accomplish the eugenic ideal in America.

  2. It’s interesting that LaBruzzo’s plan seems to be focusing on limiting female reproduction. Talk of encouraging men on welfare to have vasectomies is thrown in as an afterthought to avoid accusations of gender discrimination. Presumably, they’re less of a threat to the state’s budget.

  3. So conservatives in the USA have taken two contradictory positions to heart:

    1. The creationists insist the Darwinism is wrong and led to eugenics and Final Solution.
    2. The law-and-order types have called for the return of compulsory sterilization. It has also been called for by Gov. Jindal in Louisiana:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/26/louisiana-gov-jindal-auth_n_109342.html

    And the final twist comes when you realize that the creationists and the law-and-order types of often not even two groups but the SAME PEOPLE!

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