Radio Commentary

Swedish Sterilization

ome disturbing information came to light recently about Sweden. That country, according to a leading Swedish newspaper, has a dark past. Starting in 1935, and continuing until 1976, Sweden sterilized 60,000 of its own citizens. Victims included people with bad eyesight, low IQs, and those judged to be living a "vagabond lifestyle." Sweden has long been admired by liberals for its "progressive" social policies. It seems that as recently as two decades ago that "progressivity" included involuntary medical tests and sterilization.

But this ugly news should come as no surprise. When the state takes care of every citizen’s every need, that gets damn costly. Thus, folks that cost the state too much soon become "undesirables," and in time their right to procreate—or even exist—is called into question. That could never happen here, you say? Well, our own history includes involuntary sterilization. In the 1920s many states allowed the sterilization of criminals, drug addicts, and the insane.

In 1927 the Supreme Court upheld the sterilization of a mental patient who was the daughter of another institutionalized woman. "Three decades of imbeciles are enough," wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes. That kind of thinking doesn’t prevail today, but as government addresses more and more of our needs and wants, while facing a crushing debt burden, it’s not unreasonable to assume federal bureaucrats have their eye on … cutting costs. To paraphrase writer Nick Gillespie, the allegedly beneficial welfare state, in time, produces a nation seeking to purge itself of anyone who is a drain on public coffers. Smokers, and fellow "undesirables"—everyone, take heed. u


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