UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"An act respecting sexual sterilization" : reasons for enacting and repealing the act Heeswijk , Gail van


British Columbia enacted "An Act Respecting Sexual Sterilization" on April 1, 1933 and repealed the Act on April 18, 1973. Through historical research, this thesis investigates the reasons for both the enactment and repeal of the Act. Also, the thesis describes the changing status of surgical sterilization during those years. Surgical sterilization initially began as a form of genetic selection for those in institutions. By the 1940s there was demand from the public that this procedure be available. It was not until the 1960s that voluntary surgical sterilization became available, but not without much debate as to whether the procedure was legal outside of the Act. By the 1970s, voluntary sterilization was accessible. The Act was repealed during this time as the understanding of heredity had changed and it appeared that the Act was used to solve behavioral problems rather than problems of heredity.

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