VIRGINIA, May 3, 2002 ( – Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) formally apologized yesterday for the state’s participation in eugenic practices which led to the forced sterilization of an estimated 8,000 people from 1927 until 1979. “Today, I offer the commonwealth’s sincere apology for Virginia’s participation in eugenics,” lamented the governor in a written statement. Virginia passed the eugenics law in 1924. This year marks the 75th anniversary of a Supreme Court decision that upheld the law in 1927.  “As I have previously noted, the eugenics movement was a shameful effort in which state government never should have been involved,” said the governor. “We must remember the commonwealth’s past mistakes in order to prevent them from recurring.”  Mr. Warner is the first U.S. governor to have formally apologized for eugenics, a practice that was adopted by 30 states and which is believed to have resulted in the involuntary sterilization of about 65,000 Americans.

Eugenics was designed as a tool for eliminating perceived weaknesses and deficiencies in people from being perpetuated from one generation to the next. Targets of the practice were the “feebleminded, insane, criminalistic, epileptic, inebriate, diseased, blind, deaf, deformed and dependent,” including “orphans, ne’er-do-wells, tramps, the homeless and paupers.”  See:


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