In 1963, This Heiress Was Forcibly Sterilized To Ensure She’d Never Receive An Inheritance

Dario Lo Presti - - illustrative purposes only

In 1963, the 21-year-old heiress Ann Cooper Hewitt made the front pages for suing her mother, Maryon, for half a million dollars.

She claimed that her mother paid two doctors to forcibly sterilize her in order to ensure that she would never receive an inheritance from her father’s estate.

Ann’s father, Peter Cooper Hewitt, was a millionaire who made his fortune by inventing the mercury vapor lamp in 1901.

He was also the grandson of a famous engineer who was responsible for several other inventions in the 19th century, like the steam locomotive and gelatin dessert.

Peter’s generational wealth, innovative nature, and business ventures helped expand his family’s riches.

By the time he died in 1921, his estate was worth $4 million, which equates to around $59 million today.

He left two-thirds of his estate to his daughter Ann and one-third to his wife, Maryon. The will also stated that Ann’s share would be given to her mother if she died without having kids.

In court, Ann argued that her mother knew about this stipulation, which was why Maryon had secretly paid two doctors to sterilize her without her consent under the guise of an appendectomy before she turned 21. After Ann’s 21st birthday, Maryon would no longer have any control over her medical care.

In 1934, Ann and her mother were at a beachside resort outside San Diego. They were having lunch when Ann suddenly felt intense pains in her stomach.

Dario Lo Presti – – illustrative purposes only

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