Sterilizing the Poor, Minorities, and Handicapped Women

Imagine if someone came to you and said they advocated sterilizing the poor, minorities, and handicapped women. Suppose the same person promoted killing the elderly and any children who had birth defects.

Would you support the idea?

How about instead, if that person made an impassioned plea:

Help the poor and minorities escape the confines of unwanted pregnancies that trapped them in poverty and prevented them from ever realizing their dreams and aspirations; that with a simple, painless procedure these women could be spared this senseless tragedy.

So, too, with the mentally and physically infirmed, who are barely able to care for themselves. Would you further cripple them with the struggle of trying to support a child as well? And what about the quality of life of the child whose parents are unable to care for her effectively? What if the child suffered the same affliction as her parents? What hope could there be for any kind of life for any of them?

In our society, we are so focused on the length of life that we forget about its quality. Why would we force proud and vibrant individuals to suffer slow, degrading indignities as their minds and bodies fail? Would you condemn them to years of pain and humiliation just to fulfill your ideal of a long life?

Furthermore, run-away over population is threatening the environment, and the overall viability of the planet itself to sustain life.


If you heard these messages, would you be more receptive? Might you even agree?

Yet the end results are the same: the poor, minorities, and handicapped women would be sterilized. Children with birth defects and the elderly would be euthanized.

So what was the difference in these two approaches?

Why would you reject one immediately but embrace the other?

sterilization-no-more-babies_fullThe first is a simple statement of intent. It is cold, calculating, and sounds evil. The second, however, is in the language of the heart. It uses words of compassion and empathy. It sounds caring and humane. We, as a society, love the feel of emotion. Our movies have to have happy endings; our books have love, romance, and redemption. We like a good tear-jerking, heart-throbbing cry. We like to feel.

The advocates of eugenics understand this. They know that if they can successfully appeal to your emotions that they can get you to agree to anything – even sterilizing millions of women, and killing “undesirables”. It is called propaganda, and they are very good at it.

You must also remember that for propaganda to be effective it must not only sell you on the concept, but it must discredit any opposing ideas. If you were the propagandist who had carefully crafted the questions above to sound heart-felt and empathetic, how would you discredit anyone who tried to point out what you were doing?

Perhaps you could accuse them of being unsympathetic to the plight of the poor. How about saying that they opposed women’s reproductive freedom, and just wanted women to be baby mills. You could paint them as cold and uncaring. Maybe you could add a profit motive, too.

I will stress this point repeatedly during this series: ignore the flowery words, pay attention to the end result.

Those you think are your friends may not be. Those you think are your enemies may not be, either.


Author: Nick Batik (the Cowboy Buddhist)

I was raised a Quaker and later converted to Buddhism around the time I met His Holiness The Dalai Lama in 1981. Along with my parents and family, I have been active in civil rights and women's rights since the 1960s. I am the product of strong women – two grandmothers who owned and ran businesses in an era when women did not own or run businesses. One of whom who was a crippled, non-english speaking immigrant, in a time and place where women couldn’t vote or own property, immigrants were feared and hated, and there were no laws, protections, or support of any kind for the handicapped. Yet, despite all this, she built a business that was franchised on three continents. I have a sister who is a medical doctor, and one who worked the North Sea oil rigs. I have traveled the world, and currently live in Texas.