North Carolina Assembly Strikes Sterilization Law
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 22, 2003
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA--The General Assembly has voted to remove from the books a state law that allowed 7,600 people to be forcibly sterilized during the last century.
The law was used from 1929 until the 1970s by the state Eugenics Board to order the sterilization of people considered "defective". Most of those were young adults and teens with mental retardation or mental illnesses. Many of those sterilized during the 1960s were young black women and girls, some as young as 10 years of age.
North Carolina's sterilization law has not been used since the 1970s, and the Eugenics Board no longer exists.
Sterilization laws were used in 33 states and two Canadian provinces during the popular eugenics movement, which was based on a racist "false science" that promoted the idea that society's problems could be lessened if "undesirables" were not allowed to pass their "problems" to their children. In all, over 60,000 Americans were legally sterilized against their will during the 20th century.
Governor Mike Easley recently became the third governor to apologize on behalf of a state for the practice.
In addition to the legislation removing the law from the books, Easley appointed a committee to look at possible reparations for those who were victims of forced sterilizations.
Image Archives on the American Eugenics Movement (DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory)