@NCCapitol

House panel OKs plan to pay eugenics victims

Posted May 22, 2012

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— A state House committee voted Tuesday in favor of legislation that would pay $50,000 to people who were sterilized against their will.

From 1929 to 1974, more than 7,600 people in North Carolina were surgically rendered unable to reproduce under state laws and rules that targeted people deemed unfit to be parents. They included epileptics, those considered mentally defective and many who were simply poor.

The compensation bill was filed last week in the House and Senate. Victims would receive a tax-free, lump-sum payment, with a deadline of Dec. 31, 2015, to file a claim. The state Industrial Commission would determine eligibility, and the state treasurer would issue payments.

The House Judiciary Committee sent the proposal on to the full House, but the vote wasn't unanimous.

Rep. George Cleveland Lawmaker's opposition to compensation angers sterilization victims

"People today paying for something that happened in the past I do not believe is correct. I don't think it's right," said Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow.

Although Cleveland called the eugenics program "despicable," his opposition to compensation angered some victims and their relatives.

"These people were bullies – bullies who had money – and bullies still exist," said Deborah Chesson, whose mother was sterilized in 1964.

Chesson said a social worker threatened to cut off her family's public assistance if her mother, who was a teenager at the time, resisted the surgery.

"Just by hearing the representative talk about, that they didn't do it, so why should they pay, who are you going to point the finger at?" she said as she choked back tears.

About a quarter of the sterilization victims are estimated to still be alive. So far, the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation has identified 132 victims, 118 of whom are living.

Foundation executive director Charmaine Cooper-Fuller said she expects more victims to come forward if the legislature approves compensation.

The bill also provides continued funding for the Sterilization Victims Foundation, which serves as a clearinghouse for verification requests.

State Eugenics Task Force chair Laura Gerald said it's hard to put a number on the pain caused by the sterilization program, but she said she hopes compensation can recognize the state's mistake and help victims.

"Compensation also serves a collective purpose to the state and sends a clear message that we in North Carolina are a people who pay for our mistakes," Gerald said. "We do not tolerate bureaucracies that trample on basic human rights."

81 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 24, 2012

    Government should pay people a fixed amount, say $5000, to voluntarily get sterilized. A good % of folks would take them up on this and it would drastically reduce public assistance, abortion, unpaid medical bills, poverty, etc.

    Why not do this?

    The fact that *half* of all pregnanciies are unplanned shows that humans are way too adept at having children. We cannot continue to double our size every 30-40 years or overpopulation will spell our doom. We already have 30,000 children starving to death on our planet every day. When will we put the brakes on this?...when it’s too late for the planet to sustain us all?

  • randall0123a May 23, 2012

    "Compensation also serves a collective purpose to the state and sends a clear message that we in North Carolina are a people who pay for our mistakes," Gerald said. "We do not tolerate bureaucracies that trample on basic human rights."

    What about MY rights to be allowed to provide for my own family? What right do others have to take from the rest of us to compensate for their irresponsible behavior? This is pretty one sided. And as usual, those that do what it takes to provide for themselves and their family are punished, and the irresponsible are rewarded – nice precedent this is setting. These people have a mixed up sense of what rights are. I tire of tolerating those that TAKE TAKE TAKE.

  • randall0123a May 23, 2012

    "These people were bullies – bullies who had money – and bullies still exist," said Deborah Chesson, whose mother was sterilized in 1964. Chesson said a social worker threatened to cut off her family's public assistance if her mother, who was a teenager at the time, resisted the surgery.”

    How about we reward that social worker! So let me get this straight, Ms Chesson already had a child that the tax payers had to pay for, taking money from OUR pockets, leaving less to care for our OWN familes. The state gave her a CHOICE by allowing her to choose between stop taking money out of the pockets of tax payers, thusly proving she has the ability and taking responsibility to provide for her own choices and family, or to keep taking money from tax payers, but the tax payers would put an end to her ability to have more children that she obviously can’t provide for. Ms Chesson calls people bullies that don’t want her to take money from their pockets? Wow, is that misguided!

  • randall0123a May 23, 2012

    A version of eugenics needs to be in place TODAY actually. If people support themselves and the children they produce, then they can have all the kids they want. BUT, when you have children while you already can't support them on your own, forcing tax payers to flip the bill for your reckless breeding, this is despicable and irresponsible. I make sacrifices to support the one child I have. If I did not have to pay for other families and children to draw off the system, then I would have more for my own family. And now on top of this, we are giving them MORE money? Seriously? For those that already had kids and were drawing money from the system - no $$$. Same for those whose family signed the consent form. If they sterilized rape victims w/o consent, then give them some $$$. There are those that GIVE to the system, then there are those that TAKE from the system and take advantage of it. Get a job, get educated, work, do whatever it takes, and take care of your own family.

  • Rebelyell55 May 23, 2012

    Really wished our elected leaders had waited to see what the other states that did this also are going to do about it.

  • Rebelyell55 May 23, 2012

    If these people were found to be so irresponsible back them, what do ya think will happen when they get a lump sum of money like this? It'll end up ruining a lot of them and in the long run, the tax payers will continue to pay to keep some of them up. This is a bad idea and so far has not really been thought out very well.

  • Rebelyell55 May 23, 2012

    "The bill also provides continued funding for the Sterilization Victims Foundation, which serves as a clearinghouse for verification requests"....This is the real story, this will suck up more money over the years, paying out salary for those "appointed ones" that are not even qualified to do any type of work in goverment. It's a scam for a few select people to get tax dollars. There will be more money spent on these programs than what is given out as "payment" to the victim. More goverment abuse at the expense of the tax payers of NC.

  • storchheim May 22, 2012

    "What a vile and bigoted statement." fancymike

    In what way? No mention of color was made, so where's the bigotry?

  • Zorg May 22, 2012

    Funny, how when I point out that this bill was bipartisan all of the way, the "lib'ral haters" have nothing to say after that, except the usual thinly-veiled racist comments.

    Perhaps I'm in the wrong conversation. I left my white sheets at the dry cleaners and should probably go get them.

  • confusedinnc May 22, 2012

    We, as today's taxpayer, should fight having to pay for something we weren't even here for. Yes, it was despicable, but why is it now my responsibility to pay?

More...