California was part of a broader national trend in the 20th century; 32 states passed legislation sanctioning the sterilization of individuals considered “unfit” to reproduce. In California, the first of such laws was passed in 1909. The law authorized medical superintendents in state hospitals and prisons to sterilize patients if they considered the procedure to be “beneficial and conducive to the benefit of the physical, mental or moral condition.” The practice was abolished in 1979, but during the 70 years that eugenics laws stood in the state, over 20,000 people of various races and ethnicities were sterilized.