The Disability Law Center (DLC), joined by the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council (UDDC) and the USU Institute for Disability Research, Policy, and Practice (IDRPP), is saddened to read the report that at least 830 Utahns with mental health and intellectual disabilities were sterilized against their will in State-run institutions. This abhorrent practice was based on the eugenics movement and sought to eradicate people with disabilities. That the practice continued into the 1970s is concerning; yet, even today, there are laws that continue the practice of stripping the rights and choices of Utahns with disabilities, including the ability to forcibly sterilize them.
People with disabilities have the right to be treated equally and to live independent, self-directed lives; however, even though our State prides itself on individual rights, far too often, they are denied the right to make choices about their own lives through things like guardianship and involuntary commitment. We can and must do better. So, today, the DLC, UDDC, and IDRPP are urging the State of Utah to apologize for the past sterilization of at least 830 Utahns with disabilities in their institutions, and we further call upon them to abolish the practice of forced sterilization of people with disabilities.