Applaud Compensation of Forced Sterilization Victims


Target: North Carolina Legislature

Goal: Commend the North Carolina Legislature for approving a compensation fund for victims of the state’s aggressive eugenics program

During the twentieth century, North Carolina stood as the state that implemented the most extreme system of forced sterilization in the United States. A recent decision by the North Carolina Legislature to compensate victims of this eugenics project represents a serious attempt to right the wrongs the state waged against its citizens. Between 1929 and 1974, approximately 7,600 individuals living in North Carolina—both males and females—were sterilized as part of a eugenics movement that 31 other states partook in. The decision to award $10 million to victims by lawmakers should be commended as a step towards addressing past injustices against U.S. citizens during an era marred by a plethora of prejudices towards racial minorities, impoverished families and mentally handicapped individuals.

The idea that doctors surgically removed reproductive parts of unwilling participants and thereby negating their chances of conceiving children seems barbaric. However, it remains a dark epoch in American history that only ended forty years ago. Using the guise of public safety and health, social workers in North Carolina identified certain types of people who should be sterilized. The demographics of those targeted for sterilization were the mentally ill, children from impoverished families, unmarried women with children, and all Africans. Furthermore, patients have testified that doctors conveyed an apathetic disregard for their well-being both before and after the forced surgeries.

Today, 177 living victims have come forth. The $10 million dollar fund allotted to victims by lawmakers will be distributed equally to each individual, and the final sum paid is predicated on how many other victims come forward to officials. Many victims who have already come forth have given interviews regarding the aftermath of their sterilization. Many have faced severe psychological trauma from the embarrassment of being forcibly sterilized.

What the North Carolina Legislature has done by compensating victims of the heinous eugenics movement is historic and sets a precedent for other states that also participated in the widespread movement to follow suit. Although the monetary compensation will not rectify what happened to them, it nonetheless shows that North Carolina has come to terms with one of the darkest periods in American history. Please sign this petition to commend the North Carolina Legislature for its historic actions and promote these actions to other states.


Dear North Carolina Legislature,

We applaud you for your decision to compensate living victims of the widespread eugenics movement that marred American society during the twentieth century.

Although North Carolina sterilized fewer individuals than other states that participated in the eugenics movement, it pursued one of the most aggressive sterilization programs in the country. Furthermore, while the $10 million fund for the living victims cannot rectify the physical, emotional and psychological damage done by the program, it will nonetheless provide some closure to one of the darkest epochs in North Carolina’s state history. We thank you for taking steps towards addressing past injustices that have hitherto been ignored.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: drdegeus via flickr

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74 Signatures

  • Hermann Kastner
  • James Thrailkill
  • sheila childs
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • Mal Gaff
  • Nancy Petersen
  • Holly Hall
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  • Marianne Oelman
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