Primary Resource

Petition to Sterilize Carrie Buck (September 10, 1924)

A. S. Priddy, superintendent of the Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded, petitions to have the inmate Carrie Buck sterilized. Priddy then arranged to have the order appealed in order to test the Virginia law authorizing such procedures. The order was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Buck v. Bell (1927).

Transcription from Original

[fol. 17] Before the Special Board of Directors of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded
A. S. Priddy, M. D., Superintendent,
v.
Carrie Buck, Infant Inmate of the Above Institution
Petition

To the Special Board of Directors of State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded:

Your petitioner, the undersigned A. S. Priddy, M. D., Superintendent of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded, acting pursuant to the provisions of the Act of the General Assembly of Virginia, approved March 20, 1924. (Chap. 394, Acts of Assembly, 1924) entitled "An Act to provide for the sexual sterilization of inmates of State institutions in certain cases," respectfully represents:

(1) Petitioner is the duly appointed Superintendent of the aforesaid State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded.

(2) Petitioner is of opinion that it is for the best interests of the aforesaid Carrie Buck and of society that the

— page 9 —

said Carrie Buck, who is an inmate of the said institution under petitioner's care, should be sexually sterilized, she being afflicted with feeble-mindedness.

(3) The facts of the case and the grounds of petitioner's opinion, verified by his affidavit hereinafter made, to the best of his knowledge and belief, are as follows:

The said Carrie Buck, by reason of the laws of heredity, would in all probability, if permitted to bear children, transmit to her offspring some form of mental defectiveness by which the offspring would, in view of professional experience and teaching, develop some form of mental disease or defect such as feeble-mindedness, insanity or epilepsy, and by reason of her anti-social conduct and mental defectiveness, she is unfit to exercise the proper duties of motherhood. The said Carrie Buck is possessed of good physical health and strength and if by sterilization she be made incapable of child-bearing could leave the Colony and enjoy the liberty and blessings of outdoor life, become self-supporting and thereby relieve the Commonwealth of Virginia of the burden of the support of her under custodial care, in a State institution for mental defectives during the period of child-bearing and the said Carrie Buck desires that the said operation be performed.

[fol. 18] The said Carrie Buck was received into the State Colony, after having been committed from the City of Charlottesville, on January 2, 1924, and admitted to the said State Colony on June 4, 1924, and the following facts are given in depositions taken at the time of commitment:

Sex, female, born July 2, 1906, in Charlottesville, Va. Single—has resided with J. F. Sables, Green St., Charlottesville—Nearest kin—Is her mother, Emma Buck, a feeble-minded inmate of the State Colony—Father, Frank Buck, is dead.

Moral delinquent—had just given birth to a mentally defective child before admission. Mother, Emma Buck, is a feeble-minded inmate of the State Colony—Papers state that she had outbreaks of temper and some hallucinations. Since admission to the Colony mental test and observation have confirmed the findings of the commission, she having a mental age of 9 years and feeble-minded of the Moron class.

(4) The said Carrie Buck has no father living, her mother, Emma Harlowe Buck, is a legally committed inmate, feeble-minded, in the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-minded, and so far as your petitioner knows, is advised and believes, the said Carrie Buck has no legal guardian or committee and she is now of the age of 18 years her last birthday.

Upon the application of your petitioner the Circuit Court of Amherst County in which said institution is located, on Monday, July 21, 1924, Robert G. Shelton, of Madison Heights, Va., was appointed to act as guardian of the said Carrie Buck during and for the purpose of the proceedings hereunder to defend her rights and interests as provided by said statute. A copy thereof, certified by the Clerk of the said Court, is filed as an exhibit herewith.

In consideration of the premises petitioner prays that your honorable Board, after notice given according to law, shall hear and determine the prayer of this petition that the said Carrie Buck may be sexually sterilized by the performance upon her of the operation of salpingectomy, to be performed by Dr. A. S. Priddy, of Colony, Va., who is a competent and capable physician therefor, or by some other competent and capable physician to be designated by your honorable Board in its order hereupon, and that petitioner may be authorized to have such operation performed.

[fol. 19] Petitioner prays for all such other and general authority and relief and orders in the premises as may be proper.

Respectfully, A. S. Priddy, Petitioner.
Duly sworn to by A. S. Priddy. Jurat omitted in printing.