1942California – Eugenics – The Sonoma State Home was a state hospital founded in 1884 and became the institution that set the stage for sterilization, providing an example for institutions all over the world (Kline, p. 30). This transition came with the emergence of eugenics. It especially focused on sterilizing women who were considered sexually deviant (Kline, p. 32). Many of these women were considered such because they had sex outside of marriage. Such an act was considered an implication the mental deficiency of the individual and qualified them for institutionalization and sterilization (Kline, p. 30). Under the direction of Butler, Sonoma admitted patients solely for the purpose to be sterilized and then released.
In 1942, Sonoma sterilized more “mental defectives” than any other institution in the world (Kline, p. 33). Often overlooked, Sonoma conducted dangerous tests and trials on patients into the 1960s. Such treatments, including radiation dosing experiments, resulted in countless injuries and deaths that are still being investigated (60 Minutes). Still open today, renamed the Sonoma Development Center, there is no mention of the past on the website (State of California).