Facing South

INSTITUTE INDEX: Justice for the South's forced-sterilization victims?

sterilization_protest.jpgYear in which Sir Francis Galton founded the now-discredited science of eugenics to improve the human population through selective reproduction: 1883

Number of U.S. states that adopted eugenics laws in the early 1900s targeting for compulsory sterilization people deemed unfit to bear children: 32

Year in which the first U.S. state, Indiana, enacted a compulsory sterilization law: 1907

Year in which Georgia passed a eugenics law, the last state to do so: 1937

Estimated number of U.S. residents sterilized as a result of such laws: 80,000

Of the 13 Southern states, number that had active sterilization programs: 8*

Year in which the U.S. Supreme Court endorsed such programs in its Buck v. Bell decision upholding Virginia's sterilization law, reasoning that "the principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes": 1927

Year in which North Carolina first adopted a compulsory sterilization law, though it was not implemented: 1919

Year in which North Carolina adopted a compulsory sterilization law that was implemented: 1929

Year in which the N.C. Supreme Court ruled that the state's sterilization law was unconstitutional, leading the General Assembly to adopted a new one modeled on Virginia's Supreme Court-approved version: 1933

Year in which Germany's Nazi government passed its own eugenics law, which it promoted with a poster that showed the flags of the U.S. and other countries with such laws over the caption, "We do not stand alone": 1933

Year in which a North Carolina hosiery magnate joined forces with a Proctor & Gamble heir to form the Human Betterment League, which launched a publicity campaign to promote sterilization out of concern that welfare recipients and the mentally ill were a drain on taxpayers: 1947

Decades in which North Carolina's sterilization program peaked, long after most other states had abandoned such efforts due to their resemblance to Nazi policy: 1950s and 1960s

Year in which civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer delivered a speech in Washington, D.C. in which she decried forced sterilization of African Americans in her home state of Mississippi: 1965

Year in which the federal government began paying for forced sterilizations through the Medicaid program: 1969

Year in which the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the federal government over sterilization abuses: 1973

Year in which North Carolina ended its sterilization program: 1974

Estimated number of North Carolinians sterilized as part of that program: 7,600

Percent of North Carolina's sterilization victims who were women: about 85

Overall percent of North Carolina's sterilization victims who were black: 39

Percent of North Carolina's sterilization victims who were black during the 1960s: 60

Age of the North Carolina eugenics program's youngest victim, a boy who was castrated: 10

Number of North Carolina sterilization victims who are still alive today: nearly 3,000

Date on which North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) established a Eugenics Task Force to look at compensating the state's sterilization victims: 3/8/2011

Date on which the task force held a listening session for victims of the state's forced-sterilization efforts: 6/22/2011

Age of Elaine Riddick, who spoke at the listening session, when she was sterilized in 1968 after being raped, getting pregnant and giving birth to the child: 13

Rank of North Carolina among the top states in terms of sterilizations performed: 3

Rank of Virginia: 2

Rank of California: 1

Year in which Virginia became the first state to apologize for its sterilization program, on the 75th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Buck v. Bell decision: 2002

Number of states that have issued official apologies for involuntary sterilizations: 7

Number of states besides North Carolina that have set up a process to compensate individual victims: 0

Amount of compensation proposed by North Carolina, which victims say is inadequate: $20,000

* The Southern states with such programs were AL, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, VA and WV; those that did not have them were AR, FL, KY, TN and TX.

(Click on figure to go to source. Photo of 1971 anti-sterilization protest from the Southern Conference Educational Fund in Louisville, Ky. via the Independent Weekly.)


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re: INSTITUTE INDEX: Justice for the South's forced-sterilizatio

I caught the tail end of a news story about this on the national news last night. After reading your facts and figures I am amazed and shake my head at the bones that continue to fall out of the closet of this country's history and man's inhumanity to man. So very sad.

re: INSTITUTE INDEX: Justice for the South's forced-sterilizatio

Since most if not all of these sterilizations were requested by the families of the "victims", I do not believe NC owes them any more than an apology at this point. I do note that the majority of these sterilizations were white people, with only 39% of them black. NC is in bad shape financially at this time, and I honestly believe we can not afford to compensate any of them financially. It is a sad thing to see children having children, and it does put a strain on Medicaid. However, it was legal at the time it happened and is no longer lawful, so my thoughts are to apologize and move on.

re: INSTITUTE INDEX: Justice for the South's forced-sterilizatio

With all due respect you are misinformed. The majority of sterilizations were forced - thus the name "forced sterilization." Those families that did consent were told that their children were getting birth control, not being sterilized. http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-22/us/raleigh.eugenics.hearing_1_sterilization-program-task-force-eugenics-law?_s=PM:US
For the most part, these decisions were not made by the families, but by a sterilization board. The practice of deciding who is "worthy" of reproductive rights is no less horrendous when it takes place in North Carolina than when it took place in Nazi Germany. How sad that we actually gave the Nazis the idea!