ERIC Number: ED363040
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Biological Determinism and the Concept of Mental Retardation: The Lesson of Carrie Buck.
Smith, J. David
This paper reviews the case of Carrie Buck, who was the first person sterilized (in 1927) under a Virginia law allowing sterilization of persons identified as incompetent and likely to genetically transmit physical, psychological, or social deficiencies to their offspring. This law was later upheld by the Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell, which reasoned that the case was consistent with the eugenic view that most socially undesirable traits, including mental retardation, were most often hereditary. The later activities of Carrie Buck and the opinions of friends and employers support the view that she was not mentally retarded (as also was the case for her daughter born prior to the sterilization). This paper considers this case as representative of the deprivation of human rights resulting from the idea that human life can be reduced to biological determinism. Moral and ethical implications are drawn and applied to the potential findings of the current Human Genome Project. (Contains 12 references.) (DB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Buck v Bell; Human Genome Project; Sterilization
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the Council for Exceptional Children (71st, San Antonio, TX, April 5-9, 1993).