Last week North Carolina lawmakers ruled to pass a $10 million dollar budget to compensate the victims of their involuntary sterilization policy.
As we’ve been reporting for the past two years, from 1929 to 1974, North Carolina forcibly sterilized thousands of men, women and children without their consent. The eugenics movement attempted to create a better gene pool by ridding the state of negative qualities like poverty, promiscuity and alcoholism.
In 2002, North Carolina apologized for the eugenics program. For years now, the sterilization victims have been fighting for reparations from the state.
Last Wednesday, House Speaker, Republican Thom Tillis told NBC News:
“There were challenges, we had to better educate our members — and then of course we had to work through the fiscal challenges — but at the end of the day, what we’ve done is something truly historic. I hope this provides some closure to what I believe is one of the darkest chapters in the state’s history.”
Elaine Riddick, the woman who’s become an advocate for the group, was raped at 13 resulting in a pregnancy. After she gave birth to the baby, she was sterilized.
Riddick was always adamant about the fact that people needed to know about this injustice and the survivors needed to be compensated for it. After Riddick learned of North Carolina’s decision to compensate its victims, she commended the state but had some criticism as well.
“I tip my hat to North Carolina, finally they came to their senses and decided to do what’s right. ”
While she was happy the state allocated money for the victims she didn’t feel it was enough.
“You can’t put a price on someone taking your womb or castrating you, it’s humiliating.”
While it was estimated that 7,600 people were sterilized in the state, only 177 victims have been verified. And of them, only 48 survivors have come forward and been matched by state records thus far. The North Carolina Institute for Sterilization Victims Foundation has been assigned the task of finding more survivors.
$10 million dollars split equally over 48 people is just over $200,000 a piece. The funds will be distributed starting in 2015. North Carolina says the future date allows more victims to come forward and be authenticated by the state. If the victim dies before the money is distributed, it will be left to their estate.