WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Compensation for victims of the North Carolina eugenics program was cut from next year's budget. Victims of forced sterilization were supposed to get $50,000 each after a panel approved a $10 million compensation package.
A few weeks ago, the first serious proposal to compensate eugenics victims seemed like a done deal. Wednesday, victims learned the Senate chose leave the money out of next year's budget.
In the end House Speaker Thom Tillis simply could not convince his Republican colleagues in the Senate to sign off on the plan to compensate eugenics victims.
"I said if eugenics didn't occur it would be a personal failure, and at this point it is, and it's something I’ll continue to work on," Tillis said.
"There was no ability to develop consensus on one path forward with reference to eugenics," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said. "So for the sake of the budget deal, the $10 million compensation package that was decades in the making was sacrificed."
Brunswick County resident Elnora Mills was sterilized at age 16 and found out two years later while trying to get pregnant. She was devastated Wednesday after hearing the news, but was too sick to go on camera. She now suffers from thyroid cancer.
"I wanted a boy and a girl," Mills said last week during an interview. "Now I don't have that, and I don't have no grandchildren. Just two little baby dogs and my husband."
The NC Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation has verified 146 living victims. Many, like Mills, are sick and aging fast. According to the Associated Press, the foundation said Wednesday that they must end its work because its funding expires June 30. Legislators did not include any money in the state budget for the foundation.
WWAY reached out to Sen. Thom Goolsby (R-9th District) for comment. He did not return our calls. Mills says though she is not surprised this happened, she is not giving up hope.