North Carolina Looks At Compensating Sterilization Victims
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 18, 2003
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA--Last week, North Carolina became the first state to consider whether it should pay thousands of people who were sterilized under the eugenics laws of the last century.
Governor Mike Easley appointed members to a Eugenics Study Committee and asked them to investigate how the state's sterilization program started, how to prevent it from happening again and how to redress the victims. The committee might consider financially compensating the victims.
"I feel real good about this, because somebody needs to do something," Nial Cox Ramirez, 56, told the Winston-Salem Journal. Ramirez was sterilized in 1965 when she was 18. She filed a lawsuit against the sterilization program in 1973, but it was later dismissed for technical reasons.
In December, Easley officially apologized on behalf of the state for forcing 7,600 North Carolinians between 1929 and 1974 to go through surgical procedures so they could not have children. Some were as young as 10 years of age when they were sterilized.
Across the United States more than 65,000 people were documented to have been sterilized under eugenics laws, based on the idea that society would be improved if people with mental retardation, mental illness, other disabilities or "undesirables" were not allowed to spread their "problems" on to their children. During the 1960s, most of those sterilized in North Carolina were young black women.
Over the past nine months, the governors of Virginia, Oregon, North Carolina and South Carolina have all issued official apologies, but none had mentioned financial reparations to the victims of eugenics.
The conclusions and recommendations from North Carolina's panel could impact the other 31 states where sterilization laws were on the books during the 20th century.
"Against Their Will -- North Carolina's Sterilization Program" (Winston-Salem Journal)