Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dark Past: Michigan sterilized more than 3,000 people from early 1900s to 1970s

Lindsay Knake

While North Carolina is reliving some of its dark history, Michigan is not without its own.

Michigan was among the 35 states that allowed sterilization of people considered unfit to reproduce.

The stories of dozens North Carolina victims are coming to national prominence after people came forward to speak at a public hearing seeking compensation.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the North Carolina government has a legislative proposal to compensate sterilized people with $20,000 each.

Victims have said they were lied to about the procedure. About 7,600 people in North Carolina were sterilized over five decades, and about 3,000 of those people are still alive, according to CNN.

Michigan shares in the eugenics horror often associated with Nazis, as more than 3,000 residents were involuntarily sterilized, according to a January 2009 document from the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society.

Eugenics is the process of selectively breeding humans and animals to get rid of undesirable characteristics.

Michigan repealed the sterilization law in 1974, the historical society reported.

In the 1990s, a man named Fred Aslin brought a suit against the state in 1994 because of his sterilization 50 years before at the age of 18.

The case was dismissed because the statute of limitations, and Aslin received a formal apology from the Michigan Department of Community Health.

He was an American Indian from the Upper Peninsula, and Aslin and several of his siblings were considered “feeble-minded.”

They were taken to the Lapeer State School, a former psychiatric facility, after their father died and mother was unable to take care her children, according to

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