Solving an Appalling Problem: Social Reformers and the Campaign for the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act, 1928


  • A. Naomi Nind



In this article, the author examines the campaign leading up to the passage of the Sexual Sterilization Act in Alberta in 1928. The author asserts that the passage of this Act was the result of the influence of a few elite individuals, particularly those involved with the United Farm Women of Alberta social reform movement, and may not have been reflective of widespread favourable public sentiment. While there were serious misgivings regarding the passage of the Sexual Sterilization Act the legislation ultimately successful because of the pressing problems of inadequate mental facilities and budgetary constraints. The author discusses the legislation's eventual repeal in 1972 due to public denunciation of eugenic measures, concerns about liability, and the threat posed to individual liberties. This article was the winner of the William Morrow Essay Contest in 1999.