Perdue urges $10M for sterilization victims

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Bev Perdue is putting a $10.3 million request in her state budget proposal to help make amends for North Carolina’s program of forcibly sterilizing the poor, minorities and others deemed unfit to have children, her office said Wednesday.

North Carolina laws in force from 1929 to 1974 saw more than 7,600 people receive surgeries that left them unable to reproduce, though some chose to be sterilized as a form of birth control.

Details of the program were brought to light in a 2002 series by the Journal.

A task force report said 1,500 to 2,000 of the victims may still be alive. The victims foundation said Wednesday that it has verified 132 victims living in 51 counties.

Perdue’s proposal met with approval of one survivor. Elaine Riddick was 14 when the state Eugenics Board ordered that she be sterilized.

“I think it’s a start. I think that the monetary compensation is crucial because it helps people restore a lot of their lives,” Riddick said. “The key is that we educate people in the legislature, the people in the school systems, the medical field on this very devastating act that occurred on our watch.”

Credit: The Associated Press.