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Forcible sterilization in Utah with James Tabery on Monday's Access Utah

Impoverished men were employed to carry pro-eugenic propaganda signs in Wall Street, New York City, on October 27, 1914.
Wisconsin Historical Society
Impoverished men were employed to carry pro-eugenic propaganda signs in Wall Street, New York City, on October 27, 1914.

The authors of a new study write: “Eugenicists at the beginning of the twentieth century feared that the “unfit” were outbreeding the “fit” and promoted interventions like sterilization as a solution to the perceived problem. Over 60,000 people were sterilized across the United States, victims of eugenic programs implemented in 32 states. Utah had a particularly aggressive eugenic sterilization program, hailed by eugenicists for sterilizing such a large proportion of its population, and lasting well into the 1970s.” Researchers at the University of Utah who recently published the study in The Lancet Regional Health, say that their goal was to determine who was targeted by this eugenic practice in Utah and to estimate how many survivors might still be alive today. We’ll be talking with the study’s lead author University of Utah professor James Tabery.

James Tabery is a professor at the University of Utah, with appointments in the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Internal Medicine (Center for Health Ethics, Arts, and the Humanities). His research areas are history and philosophy of science, as well as bioethics. In particular, he examines the history and modern day implementation of genetics--how debates surrounding that science have evolved over the last century, what impact genetic results are having in the criminal justice system, what impact genetics is having in the clinical domain, and who has benefited and who has been harmed historically be genetic research. His research has been reported on in The New York Times, National Geographic, Time Magazine, and National Public Radio.

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Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.