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Eva Justin from the Racial Hygiene and Demographic Biology Research Unit measures the skull of a Romani woman.

You would think that living in the twenty-first century, we would have progressed beyond the barbarity of eugenics programs in the U.S. in previous centuries. That assumption would be false.

Eugenics–the systematic implementation of social Darwinian procedures such as sterilization and segregation in order to “purify” the human gene pool–complemented the ideology behind the Nazi Holocaust. Meanwhile in the U.S., medical professionals were sterilizing those deemed genetically “inferior” while legislators and police were enforcing racial segregation. We have now moved forward to a point in which science, cultural consciousness, and law are in agreement that eugenics is destructive and ethically reprehensible.

Nevertheless, a recent investigation into California prisons reveals that some Americans remain behind the times. It has been confirmed that 39 female inmates were illegally sterilized over the last eight years at Folsom Women’s Facility, Central California Women’s Facility, Valley State Prison for Women, and the California Institution for Women. Such women were not given proper consent. The procedure, in effect, was coerced on them. Consequently, the health committee at the California legislature has moved to pass a bill banning all future sterilizations of inmates unless required in a medical emergency.

North Carolina isn’t faring much better. With a sketchy past regarding eugenics programs, the state has yet to compensate its past victims of sterilization despite promises. This past Monday was the deadline for victims to file claims and apply for compensation. The NAACP believes that the state is still doing an insufficient job, requesting that the deadline be extended as only 630 out of 1,800 victims who may still be alive have submitted proper claims and paperwork to the state Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims. Let’s hope this request meets with a favorable response and that our nation can move further forward and “not one step back” as the Moral Monday mantra states. Because in California and North Carolina, we remain more than one step back.

EugenicsAs Chris Fitzsimon made clear in this morning’s “Monday Numbers,” there is simply no good reason for the state of North Carolina to shut off applications for compensation to surviving eugenics victims. Having made people wait decades, what is the point of limiting the possibility for recovery for people — especially since so many of those injured are likely to lack easy access to legal assistance they need?

The North Carolina NAACP issued a statement early this afternoon making just such an argument. Click here to view it.

From the good people at the UNC Law School Center for Civil Rights — pass it along:

If you or a family member was a victim on North Carolina’s forced sterilization program, you may be eligible for compensation from the state. The deadline for filing a claim for compensation under the Eugenics and Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program is June 30, 2014. The UNC Center for Civil Rights, along with other volunteer lawyers, are providing free assistance to those filing claims. We encourage victims and their families to call us with questions about eligibility and how to fill out the claims form. We also encourage victims and their families to attend one of the free clinics we are conducting with help from the NAACP, local churches and community leaders, during which we will provide additional information and assist in filing claims.

  • Thursday, May 22, 10am-1pm at the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center, corner of 5th and Tyson St., Greenville, NC
  • Thursday, May 29, 10am-1pm at the Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin St. Raleigh, NC

Clinics will also occur in Mecklenburg and Hertford Counties on June 5 and June 12, times and locations to be publicized soon. Below are answers to frequently asked questions we have received about the process:

Q: Where can I get the claims form?
A: You can download the form at http://www.sterilizationvictims.nc.gov/, or call the Office of Justice at 1-877-550-6013 or 919-807-4270.

Q: Who is eligible for compensation?
A: Living victims of the program are eligible, as well as the heirs of deceased victims so long as the victim was alive on June 30, 2013. Read More

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This is just plain ridiculous. Thom Tillis was for it and was prepared to find the money. Bev Perdue was too. And now it appears Pat McCrory is as well. And still North Carolina has not moved (and may not move) to compensate the surviving victims of the state’s disastrous forced sterilization program of the mid-20th Century.

And the reason: the state Senate and its leader Phil Berger. Here’s a Berger  spokesperson addressing the issue in this morning’s Wilmington Star-News:

“While his heart goes out to the victims, the current economic environment – coupled with the difficult budgetary realities inherited from past General Assemblies – prevented us from pursuing proposals to provide financial compensation during our last session,” Auth said.

This is just an embarrassing truckload of crapola. “Current economic environment”? “Difficult budgetary realities”? This from a man who helped ram through a series of absurd tax giveaways to fat cats and profitable corporations in the 2011-12 session? At least Tillis doesn’t have the gall to hide behind such a shameful smokescreen.

There was a time when the Senate President Pro Tem  was widely regarded in Raleigh as a pretty reasonable guy and certainly not an right-wing ideologue. Unfortunately, those times appear to have come and gone.

Governor Perdue is in the midst of a hectic conclusion to her term, but the Winston-Salem Journal has a good suggestion for her “to do” list over the next few weeks. The paper, which has tirelessly championed the victims of the state’s tragic forced sterilization program of the mid-20th Century, is calling on the Guv to do the right thing for the victims prior to leaving office:

“Tis the season to be jolly for many North Carolinians, especially those lucky enough to have a job. But many of the victims of the state’s forced sterilization program live on in their own private hell, one compounded this year when their heightened hopes of finally being compensated were dashed in the state Senate. Gov. Bev Perdue fought for them, but she needs to fight harder before she leaves office in a few weeks.

She should quickly take decisive action. She should urge the state’s hospitals and charitable foundations, especially those that played a role in the program that sterilized more than 7,600 men, women and children from 1929 through 1974, to challenge the legislature with matching grants to make compensation happen as soon as the legislature returns to Raleigh in January.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.