From 1929 to 1974 North Carolina forcibly sterilized thousands of men, women and children without their consent. This practice was a form of eugenics that hoped to improve the gene pool and remove traits such as poverty, promiscuity and alcoholism.
On Wednesday, North Carolina lawmakers passed a budget that includes $10 million to compensate the state’s victims of forced sterilization.
“There were challenges, we had to better educate our members — and then of course we had to work through the fiscal challenges — but at the end of the day, what we’ve done is something truly historic,” state House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, told NBC News.
Only 48 of the surviving victims of North Carolina’s now shuttered eugenics program have come forward and been matched to state records. The North Carolina Institute for Sterilization Victims Foundation has the job of finding thousands of survivors that are believed to be alive.
Elaine Riddick is one of those survivors. At the age of 13, Riddick was raped and impregnated. After she gave birth, she was sterilized.
On Thursday Riddick said she was amazed to learn of North Carolina’s plans to compensate victims.
“I tip my hat to North Carolina, finally they came to their senses and decided to do what’s right,” she said.
Still, Riddick added, the money isn’t enough.
“You can’t put a price on someone taking your womb or castrating you, it’s humiliating,” Riddick said.