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The Voice of the Black Community

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Sterlization claims' slow approval
Less than half OK for N.C. compensation
 
Published Friday, August 15, 2014 12:15 pm
by Herbert L. White

North Carolina has approved less than half of claims for compensation under the state’s forced sterilization program.


As of last week, 180 of 565 claims reviewed by the state Industrial Commission were qualified for reparations under the compensation program. An estimated 200 claims were found to need additional information or research before consideration. Part of the reason for the high number of rejections is claimants who were sterilized by county orders instead the state, according to the UNC Center for Civil Rights, which helped people navigate the claims process.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, county social services departments advised welfare recipients — especially African-American women — to submit to sterilization in order to maintain their benefits. Doctors in Greenville and Charlotte were especially aggressive in the tactic, according to Elizabeth Haddix, staff attorney at the Center for Civil Rights.


“With a state-sanctioned statutory eugenics scheme still thriving in those years, some in the medical establishment apparently saw no ethical problem with this practice, despite their patients’ lack of understanding of what was being done to their bodies in the name of ‘social welfare,’” she wrote in a blog for N.C. Policy Watch. “Because the sterilizations proceeded without the Eugenics Board’s formal approval, there are no records of them in the (Department of Administration) files, and these victims’ claims are being denied.”


Females made up 85 percent of sterilization victims in North Carolina. Blacks and Native Americans made up 40 percent, according to the 2012 Governor’s Eugenics Compensation Task Force.
Lawmakers set aside $10 million in compensation for victims of the state’s eugenics program, which operated from 1929-74 and sterilized more than 7,600 people. An estimated 1,800 eugenics victims are still alive.


Victims advocates and the N.C. NAACP urged fan extension of the application deadline to June 30, 2015 and remove the eligibility requirement for victims to be alive as of June 30, 2013. Neither happened.


The compensation payout is scheduled for June 30, 2015.

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