Eugenics compensation bill passed by house

RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- North Carolina moved closer to becoming the first U.S. state to compensate victims of a forced sterilization program when the state House approved legislation Tuesday to compensate living survivors $50,000 each.

North Carolina laws enforced from 1929 to 1974 allowed more than 7,600 people to undergo surgeries that left them unable to reproduce. Some chose to be sterilized as a form of birth control. Others were ordered to undergo surgeries by a state panel that found them mentally feeble, promiscuous, too poor to raise children, or otherwise inferior for parenthood. Up to 2,000 may be alive. The state has verified 132 victims, of whom 118 are still living.

House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, took the unusual step of giving up control of the legislative debate to argue in favor of the legislation. He said as a conservative he feels it's necessary to compensate people who were harmed by the power of the state.

"We had elected officials and leaders who had the audacity to know what the great race was," Tillis said. "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."

The bill approved by the House 86-31 would set aside $11 million to pay $50,000 to victims of forced sterilization who were alive when the current legislative session opened last month.

"We owe it to them. Not in a legal sense, but a moral sense," said House Majority Leader Paul Stam, R-Wake. "This was a sad program that lasted for several decades and has as its genesis a philosophy that is very alien to the American spirit."

The legislation was resisted by a handful of lawmakers who said compensation now meant taking from today's taxpayers to try to rectify the deeds of their ancestors.

"We're punishing people who had nothing to do with this," said Rep. G.L. Pridgen, R-Robeson.

Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, tried and failed to reduce the compensation from $50,000 to $20,000, citing another tight state budget this year more than four years after the recession began.

"You know what kind of situation our budget is in," Blust said. "This still is enough money that the state says you were wronged."

But other legislators said years of studies and evaluation have made the time right for compensation. Then-Gov. Mike Easley formally apologized for the state eugenics program in 2002.

"It's time to take on this sad chapter of our history and throw it to the winds," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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This practice was horrible and is a blot on the past history of the state. But it cannot be corrected by simply handing out money, as some politicians are always prone to do. This is a waste of our tax money.

They said they are doing this for moral reasons not legal reasons. Really? Since when do politicians care about morals? "Others were ordered to undergo surgeries by a state panel that found them mentally feeble, promiscuous, too poor to raise children, or otherwise inferior for parenthood". NEWSFLASH....this is exactly the sort of people who don't need to raise children. They produce the kids who can't pass in school and pull down the test scores. They expect teachers to suddenly make them smart, but if they don't get the support at home (nutritionally, acacemically, emotionally, morally)and arrive in this world with a fairly decent IQ, it's hopeless. Let's reinstate this program, save a huge amount of taxpayer money on welfare and mental health programs, and look at our test scores again in 15 years. Budget and education problems solved at once!

You sound like a teacher hiding behind this web page.Reinstate this program.There are people that were born in this word to poor,disadvantage mother and fathers that have grown up to be great men and women,there have been children born in this world that have everything at there doorstep and turn out to be mass murders.Test scores really. Have you ever set foot in DSS?Have you ever look into a mental health facility,everyone is not born with mental health problems things happen along the way that caused them to lost there mind.If you don't like teaching find another profession.

I think those of us who pay taxes have been "sterilized" by the policies and practices of the Governor and Legislature until 2010. Where's our check?

Here we go again. Our elected officials handing out tax dollars like party favors. Most likely the recipients have been on public assistance all their lives, now, let us reward them even more. I know it is not their fault, but sometimes common sense must prevail. Sadly, very little of such is to be found in Raleigh. The mindset with all government officials seems to be to throw money at the problem and it will be solved. How is $50,000 going to make any difference here? If these women are mentally deficient, most likely many will have a guardian. I suppose that guardian will be the real winner.

Here we go again,another jack@@s making another jack@@s statement.How do you know what they have been own all their lives.No it was not there fault but it was forced upon them and yes it should be more than 50,000.Here we go again,please.

Not all of the vicims were metally handicapped, they were selected for racially, culturally biased reasons as well. how would you like to be forcably sterilized because of something about you for which you had no control. As far as letting common sense prevail, i'm afraid the your type of sense is far too common on this web-site. Luckily "good" sense did prevail.