Our View: Pass the sterilization compensation bill

Feb. 26, 2013 @ 02:57 PM

There are numerous actions North Carolina leaders should take in the coming months to ensure this state’s fiscal integrity.
There is one action that North Carolina leaders must take — now — to ensure this state’s moral integrity.
The N.C. General Assembly came close last year to passing legislation that would compensate surviving victims of North Carolina’s eugenics/forced sterilization program that ran here from 1929 until 1974. It is past time for the wrongs of this state-sponsored tyranny to be corrected.
N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, has introduced this year in the N.C. House of Representatives a bill that would authorize payment of $50,000 to each of the remaining survivors of forced sterilizations that were performed under the authority of state government. It’s believed that 2,000 to 3,000 of these women and men may still be alive.
This is not a matter of partisan politics. Area Republicans John Faircloth of High Point and Pat Hurley of Asheboro and area Democrats Marcus Brandon of High Point and Pricey Harrison of Greensboro are co-sponsors of the legislation. This is a matter of doing what is right and just.
The story of North Carolina’s eugenics program is a dark chapter in the history of this state. From 1929 until 1974, the program resulted in forced or questionable sterilization of approximately 7,600 people. Most were poor women, and 40 percent of them — men and women — were black. Prior to World War II, eugenics theories were quite popular in the United States and many victims were people deemed to be handicapped, sick or feeble-minded. But by mid-century, eugenics theories had become discredited or objectionable because of Nazi Germany’s “master race” practices based on those theories.
North Carolina was one of 30 states in the nation to have such a program, and its sterilization totals were less than half of a few other states. But the shameful distinction of North Carolina’s program is that about 70 percent of the sterilizations occurred after World War II and decisions seemed to take on more of a racial component. But whether the sterilizations came before, during or after the war, they were wrong, and it is past time for this state to make amends.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed the eugenics compensation bill, but it stalled in the state Senate where President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, did not put it on that chamber’s calendar for consideration. While the Legislature plods along, the victims of this wrong-headed, state-sponsored program are aging and dying without deserved compensation. The time for state action is now.


Interested in N.C.'s eugenics/sterilization compensation debate? Check this from former Jamestown resident and Ragdale High grad Paul Shaver: