Politicians in North Carolina have knocked back a proposal that would have seen all living survivors of the state’s eugenics and forced sterilisation programme receive compensation. The reason for the knock back has been cited as ‘budgetary’ concerns.
The programme emerged from a eugenics law that was passed in 1929. It allowed the state to forcibly sterilise women who may have been ‘sick’, who had epilepsy, or who had the label of, ‘feebleminded’, which would now relate to people with a ‘learning disability’.
Presumably, the phrase, ‘sick’, is a catchall term that would enable the state to use its eugenics laws on pretty much whoever they wanted.
As you would expect, the eugenics laws were used against working class and poor black women, especially those who were deemed to be, lesbians, promiscuous, or who had been having pre-marital sex.
It is estimated that in Carolina alone, 7,600 people were forcibly sterilised during a 50 year period. 99% of the victims were women, and over 60% were black. These figures do not include the thousands of women who were ‘voluntarily’ sterilised for no reason at all, other than for their class, and race. Many of those women were not told they had been sterilised until they had left hospital.
The eugenics programme was based on corrupt research that suggested human behaviour and criminality was based on ‘genes’.
Most US states stopped the programme following WW2, and the eugenics association with the Nazi regime. However, North Carolina continued with their programme, and increased funding.
The proposal that was recently made would have seen all surviving victims of the programme receive a $50,000 pay-out. Legislators claim that it is too expensive, and would open the door for the families of slaves to seek compensation for the suffering of their ancestors.