Buck v. Bell was decided in 1927. The individual in question was one “feeble-minded” Carrie Buck, who herself was the daughter of an mentally challenged mother, who gave birth to Carrie and two other children. Carrie was evaluated to have the mental age of nine when she was seventeen. The director of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded in Virginia, Dr. John Hendren Bell argued for sterilization. The Circuit Court and State Court of Appeals ruled that the sterilization was constitutional, and when the Supreme Court heard the case, it issued an 8-1 ruling that confirmed the constitutionality of the sterilization or the mentally ill.
It is almost impossible to imagine this ruling sustained today. The 1970s saw a dramatic shift in human rights. Specifically, there was a lot of attention paid to the body, and people’s rights to their body. Many of these achievements were earned by the second-wave feminists. The ruling of Buck v. Bell, to date, has never been overturned.