Amid consideration of the car tax phaseout and the ever-present issues of road and school construction, state lawmakers in Richmond are also trying to reckon with the lingering pain from a decision their predecessors made in 1924. In that year, the Virginia General Assembly legalized involuntary sterilization of citizens deemed “feebleminded.” More than 7 thousand people were forced to undergo such operations. Paul Lombardo (University of Virginia), director of the Program in Law and Medicine, traces the 50 year history of forced sterilization and examines the role several prominent Virginians played in the national push for eugenics.

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