In an 85 to 10 vote, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution that expresses regret for the policies of selective breeding and forced sterilizations in place during much of the 20th century. The resolution, which still requires the approval of the Senate, will express “profound regret over the Commonwealth’s role in the eugenics movement in the country and the incalculable human damage done in the name of eugenics.” Before being approved, the word “apology” was removed from the statement, and even after its approval in the House, some House members wanted to remove the passage about regret.
Virginia passed its Eugenical Sterilization Act in 1924. A surge of sterilizations of thousands of people, mainly poor, uneducated white men and women, followed. Sterilizations were justified in an effort to produce a superior race of humans and breed away social problems such as poverty, crime and addiction. The eugenics movement gained momentum until knowledge of the Nazi brutality of World War II reached the public. Sterilizations continued in Virginia until 1979. If the Virginia senate passes the resolution, Virginia will be the fist state to express regret of the 30 states that participated in forced sterilization.