N.C. Considers Paying Forced Sterilization Victims

Barely 40 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for a single mother on welfare, or a patient in a mental hospital in North Carolina, to be sterilized against her will.

But North Carolina wasn't alone: More than half of states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, some of which persisted into the 1970s.

North Carolina is now considering compensating its sterilization victims. A state panel heard from some of them Wednesday. They were mostly poor and uneducated — both black and white — and often just girls when it happened.

Read the rest or listen to the story on NPR. See also the supplemental story, America's Unsettling Early Eugenics Movement. You can't convince me that a lot of this was not motivated by racism.

Tags: eugenics, forced sterilization, racism, society

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Replies to This Discussion

I'm undecided on how I feel about compensation for injustices, but that is another discussion altogether. However, it has been suggested that it is unlikely to go through with a Republican-dominated legislature and, of course, the financial straits everyone is in right now.

They should be paid!!!  Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood was a supporter of Eugenics as well as a member of Eugenic orginizations.  Great movie to watch.  Maafa 21!!!!!!!!


Yeah I heard that too. I'll need to watch that movie.

As far as compensation goes, I'm still waiting on the 40 acres and a mule, lol.

Even though both black and white people wre sterilized, eugenics has a racist element by definition.  It's impossible for me not to view this as racist.


It is sometimes hard for me to know what to think when someone is cognitively impaired, limited ability to care for themselves, and has children.  I try to think that is their right and they should not be denied that.  But on the other hand, I wonder about the future of the children, and who gets to decide.


That does not excuse the eugenics abuses, however.  Fom the stories that I heard, they were trying to sterilise people whose only "deficit" was that they were from the "wrong side of the tracks" or were the "wrong attitude" or the "wrong color". 

Well whatever is defined as "the wrong" element is certainly not one possessed by those who are doing the decision making. I think you hit the top three though.

I, too, have mixed feelings about this subject.  I'm not sure that having children is a right.  Doesn't a child have a right not to be HAD! Children are still treated as things that parents own.  "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!"  I have too often heard this said to kids.  

I don't think it is OK to ignore inheritable diseases and syndromes, and just dump these miseries on babies.  I don't think a child should be required to both inherit a very low IQ and also have his fragile life depend on parents who are unable, because of mental deficiencies, to take care of even themselves.  To me the problem is that if the right to breed were abridged in any way, who would decide?  Such awesome power would surely be abused. As Sentient Biped says, those with the wrong ideology, nationality, color, or culture would face discrimination - as they always do.  

There are very real and worsening problems that the idea of eugenics was designed to solve.  What compassionate, ethical, and just course should people take?  Doing nothing will also have results.  I expect fierce condemnation for what I have said.  This subject is taboo.  


The horrible abuses of eugenics by the US government against Native Americans, and the people in N.C. happened all over the place.  Australia sterilized aboriginals.  Hitler had a breeding program to produce blond, blue eyed Aryans.  He also sponsored experiments on castration.  The concentration camp doctors tried to see how fast they could castrate Jewish boys.  He eliminated many “undesirable” Europeans from the breeding pool.  There is good reason that “eugenics” is a dirty word.

But, there are seven billion of us now.  What can we do?


You should not be condemned for what you say - it is thoughtful and has humanistic values at its core.


You bring up a fascinating concept- the right not to be born.  If not born, even not conceived, how does a nonentity have a right?  But I know exactly what you mean.  It seems unspeakably cruel to knowingly, or carelessly, create a human life destined to have Huntington's disease, or Muscular Dystrophy, or Tah-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, inherited mental disabilities like fragile X syndrome....  so don't we have a responsibility, even a duty, not to create people who will suffer so badly?  And if that, what about the less horrible conditions, like inherited obesity syndromes, hyperlipidemia syndromes, and other, not so horrible but still troublesome and disabling conditions?


Is the idea of "cleaning up the genome", or eugenics, the same as the idea that there is a right not to be created because the created person will have a horrible, or difficult, disease?  

They should be compensated.


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