RALEIGH – Prospects for compensating victims of a decades long forced sterilization program dimmed this week when the state Senate defeated a measure that would have inserted $11 million into the budget to pay for the compensation.
A proponent for compensating the victims believes there still is an avenue for getting the money and compensation program approved. However, the leader of the Senate said that he felt like Wednesday’s action by lawmakers made approval more difficult to attain.
For more than four decades, the state operated what is called a eugenics program that involuntarily sterilized an estimated 7,600 North Carolinians who were poor, sick, undereducated, or disabled. That practice stopped in the mid-1970s.
Compensation of $50,000 would be provided to living victims of the sterilization program.
The House has approved a bill setting up the compensation program. It also would set up an office to help victims file their claims. It also placed a line item in the budget to pay for the compensation.
However on Wednesday, the Senate turned down a proposal that would have added $11 million to its budget to pay for the compensation. That proposal was attached to a tax provision that would have limited tax deductions that some small business owners could take.
“I think the maneuver they pulled [Wednesday] made it that much difficult to get that through,” said Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.
Thousands of mostly poor, disabled, and minority citizens of North Carolina were forcibly sterilized by the government in a misguided social program designed to weed out undesirables. Victims of rape were labeled “promiscuous” and denied the right to reproduce without their consent. Some victims of this program were as young as 14 years of age. It’s hard to believe that many of the same people who now believe in the “sanctity of life” endorsed such programs all over the country. Now legislators are trying to block a small compensation to surviving victims of this eugenics program. I can’t believe this crap happened in my lifetime and that they are now playing politics instead of doing what is morally right.