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The Unfit Heiress
The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt | Audrey Clare Farley
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For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Phantom of Fifth Avenue, a page-turning drama of fortunes, eugenics and women's reproductive rights framed by the sordid court battle between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her socialite mother. At the turn of the twentieth century, American women began to reject Victorian propriety in favor of passion and livelihood outside the home. This alarmed authorities, who feared certain "over-sexed" women could destroy civilization if allowed to reproduce and pass on their defects. Set against this backdrop, THE UNFIT HEIRESS chronicles the fight for inheritance, both genetic and monetary, between Ann Cooper Hewitt and her mother Maryon. In 1934, aided by a California eugenics law, the socialite Maryon Cooper Hewitt had her "promiscuous" daughter declared feebleminded and sterilized without her knowledge. She did this to deprive Ann of millions of dollars from her father's estate, which contained a child-bearing stipulation. When a sensational court case ensued, the American public was captivated. So were eugenicists, who saw an opportunity to restrict reproductive rights in America for decades to come. This riveting story unfolds through the brilliant research of Audrey Clare Farley, who captures the interior lives of these women on the pages and poses questions that remain relevant today: What does it mean to be "unfit" for motherhood? In the battle for reproductive rights, can we forgive the women who side against us? And can we forgive our mothers if they are the ones who inflict the deepest wounds?
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This is such a sad/tragic story. It's also disturbing that this was happening in just the last century. Neither of the female characters are very likeable but you can't help but feel sorry for Ann. The arguments made for her sterilization & the way the court validates them are stomach churning. I didn't realize that the eugenics program used by the Nazi's was influenced by research & practice in the US. A valuable read for anyone. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Riveted_Reader_Melissa Sadly yes, I read a lot about that in Caste. Great book if you are interested 2mo
MallenNC There‘s an episode of the Criminal podcast about Ann Cooper Hewitt. https://thisiscriminal.com/episode-165-unfit/ 2mo
FelinesAndFelonies @Riveted_Reader_Melissa it is on my shelf. The size has always intimidated me. @MallenNC I'll have to check it out. 2mo
MallenNC @FelinesAndFelonies And I need to look for this book 2mo
EvieBee I‘m going to ask my library to purchase this. It‘s been on my radar but thanks to your compelling review must read now. 2mo
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In 1934, at the height of eugenics, heiress Ann Cooper Hewitt‘s mother had her sterilized claiming that she was an oversexed imbecile when she was neither. Mom just wanted her inheritance. This book cover‘s Ann‘s life, the trial of the doctors who sterilized her, and also the broader issues of forced and coerced sterilization in the US up through today. The lack of control women still have over whether or when they have children so angers me!

Megabooks @Riveted_Reader_Melissa and @BarbaraTheBibliophage I think you‘d both find this book interesting! 7mo
MallenNC I just heard about this case on the podcast Criminal. 7mo
Megabooks @MallenNC what were their thoughts on it? 7mo
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Megabooks I do! stacking!!!! 7mo
Cinfhen I think I bought this recently on a #DailyDeal - makes me think of poor Britney #FreeBritney 7mo
Megabooks @Riveted_Reader_Melissa 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 7mo
Megabooks @Cinfhen yes!! I thought of that as well, in regards to it also being a high profile case. But I also thought about the whistleblower (that they discuss in this book too) that exposed all the Fallopian tube removals happening at some detention centers. I am just completely sick of any men thinking they know what‘s best for women/ppl with uteruses (individually or us as a group) when it comes to reproductive choices/health. 😡 7mo
Jennifer3 Definitely, #FreeBritney! 7mo
Megabooks @Jennifer3 💯💯💯 7mo
BkClubCare Omg this sounds horrific 7mo
Megabooks @BkClubCare it totally is. 7mo
MallenNC @Megabooks I looked back and the author of this book was on the podcast. The show told Anne‘s story and how her mother did this to her without her knowing and against her will. I‘m going to look for this book. 7mo
Megabooks @MallenNC I hope you enjoy it. The story is fascinating! Thanks for telling me about the podcast. 7mo
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