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Abstract

Ezra Seymour Gosney founded the Human Betterment Foundation of Pasadena, California in 1928 as a eugenics organization that sought to study and control the biological basis of heredity. In its quest to promote eugenic ideologies as a means of protecting society, the Human Betterment Foundation focused its efforts on the education of the general public, achieved through the distribution of informational materials and the clarification of common misconceptions and criticisms, and advocated, especially, for the use of sterilization as a eugenic practice. The number of sterilizations performed in California peaked during the years that the organization was incorporated, from 1928 to 1943, with public support at an all-time high during the 1930s. World War II and the eugenic campaign utilized during the Holocaust, however, turned public perception against such ideas. The last compulsory sterilization performed under the original California law was carried out in 1963. And in 1979 the California sterilization law was officially overturned, ending sixty years of legal sterilizations in the state.

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