Neither of these operations makes the subjects of them altogether or at once impotent, certainly not for years. It sterilizes and partly unsexes them and in the end completely so.
But the physical and mental changes that follow the operation in the young adolescent are grave and serious, and a violent outrage upon the man’s nature and sentiment.
Society can hope for nothing but evil from the man she forcibly unsexes; but if he must be kept in durance vile for the whole of his life there is little need for such an operation.
The criminal cases bad enough to justify this grave and extreme measure should be incarcerated for life.
The cases, it has been thought, that fully justify this operation are those guilty of repeated criminal assaults.
Such a claim arises out of insufficient knowledge of the physiology of sex, and the pathology of crime. Emasculation would have little influence in preventing a recurrence of this crime, for the operation does not render its subjects immediately impotent, nor does it change their sexual nature any more than it beautifies their character.
The instinct remains, and the power to gratify it remains at least for some years. With the less knowledge of surgery of earlier times, a social condition in which such a practice might be rationally considered, is conceivable, but with the present state of our profession, such measures would be unthinkable.
The fertility of the criminal a greater danger to society than his depradations.—Artificial sterility of women.—The menopause artificially induced.—Untoward results.—The physiology of the Fallopian tubes.—Their ligature procures permanent sterility.—No other results immediate or remote.—Some instances due to disease.—Defective women and the wives of defective men would welcome protection from unhealthy offspring.
There is a growing feeling that society must be protected, not so much against the criminal as against the fertility of the criminal, and no rational, practicable, acceptable method has as yet been devised.
The operations on men to induce sterility have been discussed and dismissed as unsatisfactory.
But analogous operations may be performed on women. And if women can be sterilized by surgical interference, whence comes the necessity of sterilizing both?
Oophorectomy, or removal of the ovaries is analogous to castration. It is an equally safe, though a slightly more severe and complicated operation.
It can be safely and painlessly performed, the mortality in uncomplicated cases being practically nil.
The changes physical and mental are not so grave as in the analogous operation on the opposite sex, and they vary considerably at different ages and in different cases. The later in life the operation is performed the less the effect produced. At or after the menopause (about the 45th year) little or no change is noticeable.