Vol. XVIII, No. 5 September-October, 1933
Current Record of Human Genetics and Race Hygiene
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Eugenical Sterilization in Germany.
(a) Nature of the New Statute.
Germany is the first of the world's major nations to enact a modern eugenical sterilization law for the nation as a unit. Among the smaller nations Denmark led all countries with a national statute in this field, but the law recently promulgated by the Nazi Government marks several substantive advances.
Doubtless the legislative and court history of the experimental sterilization laws in 27 states of the American union provided the experience which Germany used in writing her new national sterilization statute. To one versed in the history of eugenical sterilization in America, the text of the German statute reads almost like the "American model sterilization law." It provides for the initiation of a case by "petition" of the individual subject or his guardian, seeking application of the law. Thus the voluntary aspect is covered. In its compulsory phase, the guardian of the inadequate or incompetent, or the superintendent of a custodial institution for any one of the several types of the socially inadequate classes may "request" the application of the law. Following such "petition or request," each case is decided, according to its eugenical merits, by a specialized court and procedure, in which the eugenical facts, and the rights of the subject, and the eugenical interests of the family-stocks of the Reich are duly represented.
The special Eugenical Court comprises a magistrate acting as chairman, a public health physician, and another physician particularly versed in eugenics. This court must determine whether, according to the experience of medical science, there is great probability that the descendants of the particular subject would suffer from serious bodily or mental defects. A voluntary application before a court may be withdrawn, but after the hearing the court may order compulsory surgical sterilization. Appeal may be made to a Supreme Eugenical Court. Appeal automatically stays the operation, but, if the final court approves of the operation it shall be carried through, regardless of consent or dissent by the subject. Full privacy, under severe penalty, is provided. Also provision is made for adequate surgical skill.
Prevention of hereditary degeneracy is the sole purpose of the new statute, which applies equally to all hereditary degenerates as specified by law, regardless of sex, race or religion. A special provision makes this sterilization law applicable to persons suffering from alcoholism. Also, it is understood from press reports, that an additional statute provides for the compulsory sterilization for the perpetrators of sex crimes. It is further understood that the German Reich proposes to refuse marriage licenses to all individuals who do not measure up to the new eugenical standards