North Carolina refuses to right a eugenics wrong
Victims of state sterilization program denied compensation
The North Carolina Senate dashed the hopes for compensation to victims of a government program that, for nearly 50 years, sterilized its residents by passing a budget June 20 without funds to compensate victims.
Senate Republicans refused to support a measure cleared by state House members to earmark $10 million in the state budget that would have given sterilization victims $50,000 each, according to NewsObserver.com. The move would have made North Carolina the first state to compensate victims—most of them poor and Black—of a state-run program to keep certain people from conceiving children.
From 1929 to 1974, nearly 7,600 people, mostly women, were sterilized in North Carolina, the last of more than 30 states to abandon the practice of selective breeding, known as eugenics, during the 20th century. In all, 65,000 Americans were sterilized before the last state program was shut down in the early 1980s.
Records indicate that as many as 1,800 victims are still living in North Carolina.
Even though Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue had the endorsement of the Republican speaker of the North Carolina House, she was unable to gain support from North Carolina Senate Republicans for giving money to the program’s victims. Opponents cited uncertainty about the potential cost and the precedent it could set for those seeking damages for past wrongs, according to the Associated Press.
“If you could lay the issue to rest, it might be one thing. But I’m not so sure it would lay the issue at rest because if you start compensating people who have been ‘victimized’ by past history, I don’t know where that would end,” Republican state Sen. Austin Allran said, according to Politico. He added that the state “has no money anyway.”
Compensation advocates in the House voiced dismay. “At this point, I have lost all hope,” Democratic state Rep. Earline Parmon said, according to the AP.
“I’m appalled that the North Carolina Senate today took no action to compensate the victims that we as a state robbed of their rights to reproduce and to have children,” she said.
Victims are even more disappointed, according to leaders of a state-funded advocacy program.
“Many are angry, many of them are just distraught and devastated,” said Charmaine Fuller Cooper, executive director of the state-funded N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation.
“Everyone had gotten their hopes up.”
“It was never about money,” she said. “It was about restoring dignity to people who had that dignity stripped away at a very young age.” The organization has verified the claims of women throughout the state who were unwittingly sterilized after the state labeled them undesirable as mothers.
The lawyer for Elaine Riddick, 58, one of the victims who was interviewed by ABC News, said his client wants justice. The victim of a rape at the age of 14, she was sterilized after a state social worker labeled her “promiscuous” and “feeble-minded” at the hospital where the child that resulted from the rape was delivered, ABC News reported a year ago.
Riddick’s attorney, Willie Gary, said Riddick was “hurt” and “in tears” after hearing the state senate’s decision June 20 and plans to file a class action lawsuit seeking compensation from the state.
Opponents of funding for the compensation program said no amount of money would fix the wrongs committed by the eugenics program.
“We all agree with the fact that an apology is certainly appropriate,” said Republican state Sen. Chris Carney. “But I don’t think that makes us any more sorry because we attach a dollar figure to it.”
The Winston-Salem Journal first exposed North Carolina’s eugenics programs 10 years ago in a investigative series.
For more information, people who believe they are victims of the sterilization program are urged to contact the state-funded victims’ foundation through an information hot line (877) 550-6013 (toll-free) or (919) 807-4270 (local) which operates Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Over the summer North Carolina has make strides toward offering restitution for its shameful history. It’s Eugenic Task Force began hearing the horrendous testimonies of some of the men and women who endured irreversible surgical sterilization as part of a state-sponsored policy that was enforced from 1929 until 1974.
For the duration of the program, about 7,600 people, including youth as young as 10 years old, were sterilized to allegedly rid society of undesirable characteristics.
Let me first say that I believe a woman should have the right to an abortion. It is the law, and each person has his or her own decision to make. However, since the court decision, Roe v. Wade, the amount of abortions in this nation have been on a steady rise. Black abortions are now at an epidemic rate, and a lot of God’s children are being snuffed out without a chance of life.
A North Carolina man’s decision to put tattoos on his two dogs is drawing yelps of criticism and wagging tails of support across social media.
Ernesto Rodriguez, a tattoo artist, said he put the intricate tattoos on the bellies of his two dogs so they could be easily identified if they were lost.
“They both have their tattoos on them just in case anything happens to them,” Rodriguez told CNN affiliate WGHP-TV.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Granada Hills Charter High School was proclaimed the winner today of the California Academic Decathlon, scoring 50,801 out of a possible 60,000 points.
The nine-member team will move on to the U.S. Academic Decathlon in Charlotte, N.C., on April 28-29.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Compton was ranked as the nation's eighth most dangerous city, but three in Orange County—Mission Viejo, Lake Forest and Irvine—ranked in the top 10 safest cities, according to a report released today.
The latest edition of City Crime Rankings is one of five annual reference works published by CQ Press that analyze and rank states and cities in various categories.