Thanks to Mark Bold I see that the House has just passed an act to compensation people sterilized under the authority of the North Carolina Eugenics Board. Today's Reuters story quotes Republican Representative Paul Stam, the North Carolina House majority leader:
Whoever they are, they deserve compensation .... We owe it to them, not in a legal sense, but in a moral sense. It was a sad program that lasted for several decades and had its genesis in a philosophy that is alien to the American spirit.
Representative Tom Tillis focused on the state's role in making the case for payments: "We had elected officials and leaders who had the audacity to know what the great race was .... 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."
Next stop is the Senate. As the Senate takes this up, I hope they will focus on a couple of key points -- that this was state action, done in most cases for the convenience of the state, so the state could save money; that many people at the time knew this was wrong, even though the dominant mindset in the state was that sterilization was for the improvement of the human race -- and in some cases the white race; and that compensation is only going to people who are still alive, so it goes to the most direct victims. As to opposition at the time, here is a chapter from a book on sterilization in North Carolina published in 1950 that discusses the opposition to sterilization, particularly by people who're its likely victims.
If you'd like a brief sense of the sterilization mindset in North Carolina, here is a pamphlet published by the Eugenics Board, which details the case for sterilization and also contains the administrative forms at the end of the pamphlet, which show just how much this was turned into routine bureaucratic work.
My previous posts on North Carolina's history with sterilization and the movement for compensation are available here.