SEARCH

Entries in Sterilization (2)

Wednesday
Jan112012

NC to Compensate Sterilization Victims in 20th Century Eugenics Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- North Carolina will become the first state to compensate victims of a mass sterilization program that targeted poor minorities in a 20th century eugenics program, offering a $50,000 a person.

In a vote on Tuesday, the Eugenics Compensation Task Force recommended the lump-sum amount, putting a three-year statute of limitations on claiming those funds.

The task force also established a pool to fund mental health services for sterilization victims.

The state has located 72 such victims, according to Jill Lucas, communications director for the North Carolina Department of Administration.

A final report on Tuesday's recommendations will be given to Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue to consider.  She will pass along her recommendations to the Generally Assembly, which will make a final decision about compensation.

Some lawmakers had urged as much as $1 million for each victim.

"The state recognizes that a wrong has been done and while these actions can never be reversed, the governor has made it a priority to reach out and help identify and compensate victims for their experience," said Lucas.

The state sterilized more than 7,600 people in North Carolina from 1929 to 1974 -- one of many other states in misguided attempts to weed out criminals and the mentally disabled.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug042011

Justice for Sterilization Victims Sheds Light on Eugenics in the US

Comstock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Poor, a victim of child molestation and pregnant from rape, 14-year-old Elaine Riddick went into a North Carolina hospital in 1968 to give birth to her son. Though she wouldn't know it until years later, she would leave the hospital robbed of the ability to ever bear children again.

On top of the poverty, abuse, and neglect that marked her childhood, Riddick had the misfortune of becoming the target of the North Carolina eugenics board, a five person state committee responsible for ordering the sterilization of thousands of individuals in the name of social welfare during the last century.

"They didn't have permission from me because I was too young and my grandmother didn't understand what was going on," Riddick, now 57, tells ABC News. "They said I was feebleminded, they said I would never be able to do anything for myself. I was a little bitty kid and they cut me open like a hog."

Riddick is one of over 7,600 women, men, and children who were sterilized by choice, coercion, or most often, without consent during the North Carolina sterilization program's 45-year reign. At some point in the century, more than half of the states in the U.S. had similar programs that allowed for the sterilization of those the government deemed unfit to procreate.

When most programs began in the early 1930s, this usually meant those in institutions for mental illness or mental retardation, but over the decades criminals, the blind, the deaf, the disabled, alcoholics, those with epilepsy, and ultimately the rural poor on welfare would fall under the umbrella of "unfit to procreate."

In all, 65,000 Americans were sterilized before the last program was shut down in the early 1980s.

Though detailed, often meticulous records of these sterilizations survive in state archives, America's flirtation with selective sterilization has for the most part been a buried chapter in our nation's history.

"Eugenics in the U.S. is something that's still not nationally known. People associate it with Nazis; they don't realize that the U.S. did it too," says Rebecca Kluchin, an assistant professor of History at California State University, Sacramento who specializes in the U.S. eugenics programs.

Only seven of the 33 states who ran such programs have even publicly acknowledged or apologized to victims of sterilization. Only North Carolina, home to the third most prolific and arguably the most racist sterilization program in the nation, has recently made moves to compensate its victims.

In 2010, Gov. Bev Berdue established the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, whose mission is to determine proper compensation for those still suffering from the state's mistakes. Fewer than 2,000 sterilization victims are estimated to still be alive today.

A sum of $20,000 to $50,000 compensation per living victim was floated in preliminary recommendations issued by the foundation's task force Monday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio