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NC House OKs compensation on forced sterilizations

Posted June 5, 2012

— North Carolina moved closer to becoming the first U.S. state to compensate victims of a forced sterilization program when the state House approved legislation Tuesday to compensate living survivors $50,000 each.

North Carolina laws enforced from 1929 to 1974 allowed more than 7,600 people to undergo surgeries that left them unable to reproduce. Some chose to be sterilized as a form of birth control. Others were ordered to undergo surgeries by a state panel that found them mentally feeble, promiscuous, too poor to raise children, or otherwise inferior for parenthood.

Up to 2,000 sterilization victims may be alive. The state has verified 132 victims, of whom 118 are still living.

House Speaker Thom Tillis took the unusual step of giving up control of the legislative debate to argue in favor of the legislation. He said as a conservative he feels it's necessary to compensate people who were harmed by the power of the state.

"We had elected officials and leaders who had the audacity to know what the great race was," Tillis said. "There are people living today, all around this community, who have had this done to them and we have a chance to put it at rest."

The bill approved by the House 86-31 would set aside $11 million to pay $50,000 to each victim of forced sterilization who was alive when the current legislative session opened last month.

"We owe it to them. Not in a legal sense, but a moral sense," House Majority Leader Paul Stam said. "This was a sad program that lasted for several decades and has as its genesis a philosophy that is very alien to the American spirit."

The legislation was resisted by a handful of lawmakers who said compensation now meant taking from today's taxpayers to try to rectify the deeds of their ancestors.

"We're punishing people who had nothing to do with this," said Rep. G.L. Pridgen, R-Robeson.

Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, tried and failed to reduce the compensation from $50,000 to $20,000, citing another tight state budget this year more than four years after the recession began.

"You know what kind of situation our budget is in," Blust said. "This still is enough money that the state says you were wronged."

But other legislators said years of studies and evaluation have made the time right for compensation. Then-Gov. Mike Easley formally apologized for the state eugenics program in 2002.

"It's time to take on this sad chapter of our history and throw it to the winds," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham.

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  • goncampn2 Jun 11, 2012

    Thanks Mr. Speaker!! I am a state employee who has not had a raise in 5 years. We recenly were told we would get a $250 one time payment and 5 more days of vacation time. Now you are taking MY TAX money and giving people $50,000 for something I had nothing to do with. I say go to the people that were involved with this atrocity and let them pay the victims!

  • loprestw Jun 7, 2012

    I garentee within one month they will put the 50,000 smakers back into the economy or spend it on alcohol or drugs. I'm also wondering if they will have to pay taxes on this like we do?

  • randall0123a Jun 6, 2012

    "This compensation will put their income well above that allowed to get welfare benefits." I believe not. Its classed as a gift....and gifts are not income. – Tcheuchter
    The gift from this would be that for those that liked to have children to be raised on other people’s money; these people were given the gift of free contraception, apparently with the support of their family in most cases, since they were unable to learn about responsibility. So yes, this was a gift in those cases. The only people that are victims of this program are the people that were supporting their own choices (children) themselves, and were responsible enough to support any children they might have. Then again, if you support people living off other’s money with no limits or restrictions, then I’ll let everyone know you forfeit your earnings so they can do as they please. Since you don’t care about money, you won’t need it.

  • randall0123a Jun 6, 2012

    Tcheuchter, I think you need to check your medication, as either you missed a dose or misread the bottle. If you like people to live off of others, then please feel free to volunteer your money, unless you are one of the takers. Rather odd how you use mutilation to exaggerate the procedure. Of course, from your posts on here, it is pretty well known that you exaggerate and are on the side of the entitled and lazy. I would tell you to go live with the Quakers as well, but they don’t condone the laziness you promote.

  • Tcheuchter Jun 6, 2012

    "This compensation will put their income well above that allowed to get welfare benefits."

    I believe not. Its classed as a gift....and gifts are not income.

  • Tcheuchter Jun 6, 2012

    " I doubt that leaves many deserving of tax dollars which is collected to support teachers, law enforcement, roads, infrastructure, etc and not intended as a paycheck."

    I also wasn't intended to be used to mutilate people and deprive them of one of lifes great joys....Children. And stop pretending you give a rodents behind about supporting teachers, law enforcement, roads, infrastructure, etc......you just care about yourself and having a bit more pocket money.

  • randall0123a Jun 6, 2012

    Since each child from conception is supposedly Gods will who are you to complain? And please let us know how you know why they have the kids? Perhaps like poor folks throughout history, kids is the one thing they can have. - Tcheuchter

    If they can provide and care for these children on their own, then people can have all the children they want. The Quakers appear to have a non-entitled and self-reliant community, so for those that want to have children that tax-payers provide for, those reckless breeders can live with the Quakers and be taught responsibility. It is absolutely relevant as to whether Eugenics patients were receiving regular welfare payments before their procedure. It is also relevant whether they requested the procedure as birth-control, and whether the request was approved by a family member. I doubt that leaves many deserving of tax dollars which is collected to support teachers, law enforcement, roads, infrastructure, etc and not intended as a paycheck.

  • bubbasu12 Jun 6, 2012

    If a person receives this compensation and they are also receving welfare benefits will they be disqqualified from receiving welfare benefits? This compensation will put their income well above that allowed to get welfare benefits.

  • storchheim Jun 6, 2012

    driverkid3: your RIGHT to have a child? Please point to the paragraph in the Constitution that says you have a RIGHT to have children.

    Don't know what happened to you at 17, but stuff does happen. It doesn't always mean you're getting cash for it.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Jun 6, 2012

    Well there goes my raise...again. I think everyone who voted for it should pitch in, and Thom Tillis should donate the first 50%.

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