The involuntary sterilization of people with developmental disabilities: A content analysis

Tommy Chick Stoddard (2000)

A qualitative analysis was completed of professional psychological literature on the involuntary sterilization of individuals with developmental disabilities from 1933 through 1960. Using Psychological Abstracts as a representative sample, 81 sources were identified and reviewed using a list of 12 content categories as a guide. Results suggest only a small proportion of psychologists were actively involved in this professional discussion. Authors of sources reviewed were largely pro-sterilization and were often closely associated with organized eugenics societies. Authors tended not to be professional psychologists. The conclusion drawn was that psychologists during this period received a one-sided commentary in their professional literature regarding the eugenic sterilization of their clients and this may have contributed to abuses of client rights. It is suggested that such a situation may reoccur in relation to the human genome project if psychologists do not become more actively involved in this area.