Edwin J. Holman, LL.B.
JAMA. 1954;156(14):1309-1311. doi:10.1001/jama.1954.02950140009003.
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Medicolegally speaking, operations to produce sterility may be contemplated or performed for one of three reasons: eugenic, therapeutic, or nontherapeutic. What civil or criminal liability is incurred by the physician who, for one of these three reasons, performs such an operation? Twenty-nine states1 have enacted legislation that provides for the sterilization of the socially inadequate. This legislation is a study in itself2 and cannot briefly be summarized. Generally it may be said, however, that it designates the classes of persons to which it applies, persons who for practical purposes may be included in one of five groups: feeble-minded, insane, epileptic, habitual criminals, or moral degenerates. This legislation, in the main, applies to those portions of the enumerated classes of defective persons that are confined in specified institutions. Consent and due process of law are aspects of this legislation that should be considered locally according to the law of


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