In the case of Buck v. Bell (274 U.S. 200 (1927)), Carrie was an institutionalized 'feeble-minded'
person who had an illegitimate child. Under Virginia law, the institution
wanted to sterilize her. She argued that the law was an unconstitutional
violation of substantive due process because she had a fundamental
right to procreation.
The US Supreme Court found
that there was no fundamental right
to procreation, and so the Virginia sterilization law was constitutional
so long as there was a rational basis for it.
"It is better for all
the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for
crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent
those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind...Three
generations of imbeciles are enough."
This case was never explicitly overruled, but later, the US
Supreme Court found that there was a fundamental right to procreation in Skinner v. Oklahoma (316
U.S. 535 (1942)).
Btw, Carrie was later found to
be of perfectly normal intelligence. There was evidence that her child
was the result of rape, and that her foster parents had her committed to
cover up the crime.
There was also evidence that
her lawyer in this case deliberately lost the case. He was a member of
the governing board of the institution in which Carrie resided, had
personally authorized her sterilization order, and was a strong supporter
of eugenic sterilization.