Indiana becomes the first state to pass sterilization legislation for the purpose of eugenics (the practice of “improving the genetic population”). The law targeted “confirmed criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists”.
When this law was struck down in 1921 by the Indiana State Supreme Court, a second law was passed in 1927 which limited the procedure to “Insane, feeble minded or epileptic”, indicating a move from sterilizing the mentally ill and criminals to only the mentally ill.
The laws were designed to target those in state institutions, not the general public. They were repealed in 1974. Between 1907 and 1974, about 2500 of these procedures were carried out.
(See also May 2, 2013 and May 9, 2013 postings for additional eugenics history in Indiana.)