N.C. Republicans Refuse to Compensate Victims of Forced Sterilization; Cite Fear of State Liability for Slavery Reparations
Conservative Senate argued that compensating eugenics victims could open the door for post-slavery reparations in the United States.
The effort to give each victim $50,000 passed the House, but the Senate never gave the measure consideration. Republican lawmakers in that chamber said the state didn't have the money in such a tight budget year to make up for misguided, decades-old procedures. Legislators also feared paying the victims would lead other groups, such as descendants of slaves, to seek reparations.
"If you could lay the issue to rest, it might be one thing. But I'm not so sure it would lay the issue at rest because if you start compensating people who have been 'victimized' by past history, I don't know where that would end," Republican Sen. Austin Allran said.
Most states had eugenics programs but abandoned those efforts after World War II when such practices became closely associated with Nazi Germany's attempts to achieve racial purity. Scientists also debunked the assumption that "defective" humans could be weeded out of the population. North Carolina stood out because it actually ramped up its program after the war. Between 1929 and 1974, North Carolina forcibly sterilized about 7,600 people whom the state deemed "feeble-minded" or otherwise undesirable. Many were poor black women. [MORE]