‘Cutting Off the Worst’ Voluntary Sterilization in Britain in the 1930s

Desmond King

in In The Name of Liberalism

Published in print September 1999 | ISBN: 9780198296294
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599668 | DOI:
 ‘Cutting Off the Worst’ Voluntary Sterilization in Britain in the 1930s

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King briefly reviews the historical and intellectual context in which the concept of eugenics developed and eventually led to the formation of the 1932 ‘Brock Committee’, which was charged with making recommendations on the sterilization of the ‘feeble‐minded’ in England and Wales. Second, he analyses the motivations behind the Brock committee's appointment, the content of its deliberations, and its subsequent efforts to create sufficient momentum in favour of eugenics legislation. Third, King examines why the initiative to establish voluntary sterilization failed in Britain when it succeeded in the US. In his exploration, King determines that experts and advocates can act autonomously from societal pressure, but any decision about policy implementation is firmly a political one.

Keywords: Britain; Brock Committee; eugenics; experts; legislation; policy implementation; sterilization; USA

Chapter.  15794 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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