A panel in North Carolina has recommended that victims of the state’s eugenics program should receive a one-time payment of $50,000.
The state estimates that 7,600 people were sterilized as a part of the program between 1929 and 1974, many by force or coercion. As of 2010, there were as many as 2,944 victims still living, according to the State Center for Health Statistics.
A 1933 state law authorized sterilizations to remove “mentally diseased, feebleminded or epileptic” people from the gene pool.
Earlier this year, Elaine Riddick told CBS News that she had been sterilized at the age of 14 after being raped.
“They said that I was feeble-minded, they said that I was promiscuous,” Riddick recalled. “I’ve always been able to take care of myself – I’ve never been promiscuous.”
“So how can people use these things to describe a child that had been abandoned? Or that had been raped by the neighbor and then again, raped by the state of North Carolina?”
While 60,000 women in 32 states were sterilized from the 1920s to the 1970s to keep welfare costs down, North Carolina may have been the only state where any person could petition the Eugenics Board to have someone sterilized.
Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue established the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation after being elected in 2008. Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County has said the legislature should agree to the payments by next year, but it wasn’t clear if the Republican-controlled legislature would go along with the plan.
North Carolina is the first state to consider payments to the victims of sterilizations.
Watch this video from CNN’s AC 360, broadcast Jan. 9, 2012.