The Insider reported today that House Speaker Joe Hackney "is assembling a special panel of lawmakers to study compensating people sterilized as part of a state-sponsored eugenics program. The panel will study how much the state should pay those affected and how claims for compensation would be considered. Between 1929 and 1975, the program sterilized about 7,600 people who were considered mentally handicapped or genetically inferior. Most of the women sterilized in the 1960s were poor black women. It was the third largest program in the nation, behind those California and Virginia. The committee will report to the House by the end of the year. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 8/22/08)."
Current Legislative Background Information:
During the 2007 North Carolina Legislative Session, Representative Larry Womble introduced House Bill: 296 Sterilization Compensation Study.
This study bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to study
“a proposal to compensate persons who, as a result of the eugenic sterilization program were sterilized between the years of 1929 and 1975.” The study will also create a process for evaluating claims and study how to create an equitable compensation process. In addition the Department of Health and Human Services will be asked to study the cost of providing health care, counseling and education assistance that may be required to people affected by the forced sterilization laws of our state.
House Bill 296 pass the House with a vote of 104 Aye to 0 nays with 8 legislators not voting due to excused absence.
Historical Background Information:
In North Carolina 7,600 people were forcibly sterilized between 1929 and 1970’s. Many of those who were sterilized were young adults and teens with intellectual disabilities or mental illness. Many of the young women sterilized during the 1960’s were black women and girls.
North Carolina’s sterilization laws were repealed in July of 2003. At that time Governor Mike Easley apologized on behalf of the state for this practice.
Throughout the United States over 60,000 Americans were legally sterilized against their will during the 20th century.
“North Carolina Assembly Strikes Sterilization Law”, By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express -July 22, 2003