LELAND, NC (WWAY) — North Carolina may not compensate victims of a forced sterilization program after all. Though a bill passed through the state House last week, money for eugenics victims is not in the state Senate’s budget. By not including eugenics payouts in the Senate’s budget, the $50,000 for victims may no longer be possible.
Elnora Mills was sterilized at age 16. She says it happened after having a nervous breakdown. Two years later she found out. She had just married and was trying to have children, when a doctor told her. Now she’s 61, with no children and no grandchildren, just her loving husband by her side.
Mills is one of about 7,600 victims, many who were poor, under-educated, sick or disabled. Many were never even given a choice.
“I wanted a boy and a girl. Now I don’t have that and I don’t have no grandchildren. Just two little baby dogs and my husband,” Mills says.
Some made it clear that the state shouldn’t have to fork over the money. According to a tweet from WRAL-TV in Raleigh, Sen. Don East (R-Surry County) said, “You can’t rewrite history. I’m sorry, I had nothing to do with that. A few dollars ain’t gonna change nothing.”
“I got kind of upset about [what he said]. How would he feel if his wife couldn’t have children, what if his daughter couldn’t have children,” Mills says.
With or without the money, nothing can take back a life of wondering what if.
“It’s not going to cover what they did to me. They ruined my life forever,” she says.
When she found out the Senate had not included the compensation in its budget, Mills says she felt like the state has let her down once again.
“They don’t consider about us,” Mills says. “What they did to us, the state. They just don’t care.”
A task force has reported that up to 2,000 victims may still be alive in North Carolina.