Eugenics was a scientific theory that grew in popularity during the 1920s. Eugenicists believed that poverty, promiscuity and alcoholism were traits that were inherited. To eliminate those society ills and improve society’s gene pool, proponents of the theory argued that those that exhibited the traits should be sterilized... Wikipedia
Shocking new victim accounts are surfacing that describes the horrors behind thousands of sterilizations performed in at least 33 states beginning in the 1920’s and wasn’t finally repealed across the nation until 2003. In the end, over 65,000 individuals were sterilized under state compulsory sterilization programs in the United States.
Sterilization laws could be divided into three main categories of motivations. Eugenic, focused with heredity. Therapeutic, was part of an obscure medical theory that sterilization would lead to vitality. Punitive sterilization was a punishment for criminals. (Could be both punitive and eugenic)
While most states reportedly sterilized children of poverty, promiscuity and or showed alcoholism traits,West Virginias sterilization act reportedly only involved patients of state institutions “afflicted with any hereditary form of insanity that is recurrent, idiocy, imbecility, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy, who are candidates for parole or dismissal.”
West Virginia doctors performed at least 240 documented sterilizations of young girls and boys beginning in 1929 but ended in 1956. Since sterilizations were performed on patients of WV state institutions, it is probable that the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (better known as the Weston State Hospital) served as the feeder institution. The asylum was home to the “mentally ill” after being constructed in the late 1800s.
There is little information available concerning opposition to sterilization in West Virginia. According to reported statements by Robert E. Marshall of the West Virginia Department of Mental Health, the lack of sterilization in West Virginia could be attributed to “a general feeling that sterilization of the mentally defectives are not necessarily desirable or indicated in most cases.
What Is Eugenics And Who Are It's Founders
Eugenics was a scientific theory that grew in popularity during the 1920s. Eugenicists believed that poverty, promiscuity and alcoholism were traits that were inherited. To eliminate those society ills and improve society’s gene pool, proponents of the theory argued that those that exhibited the traits should be sterilized.
Some of America’s wealthiest citizens of the time were eugenicists including Dr. Clarence Gamble of the Procter and Gamble fortune and James Hanes of the hosiery company. Hanes helped found the Human Betterment League which promoted the cause of eugenicists.
It began as a way to control welfare spending on poor white women and men, but over time, states began targeting more women and more blacks than whites. A third of the sterilizations performed were done on girls under the age of 18. Some were as young as nine years old.
The Worst Of The Worst States That Condoned Human Sterilizations Until 2003
On November 7th, 2011 a new published story/report by Michelle Kessell and Jessica Hopper exposed how North Carolina was not only performing these sterilizations on young women (majority were black) without their knowledge, but with the full authority of a five member state eugenics board located in Raleigh NC.
Who are some of the victims coming forward? Teens like Elaine Riddick, who was only13 years old when she got pregnant after being raped by a neighbor in Winfall, N.C., in 1967. The state ordered that immediately after giving birth, she should be sterilized. Doctors cut and tied off her fallopian tubes.
“I have to carry these scars with me. I have to live with this for the rest of my life,” she said. Riddick was never told what was happening. “Got to the hospital and they put me in a room and that’s all I remember, that’s all I remember,” she said. “When I woke up, I woke up with bandages on my stomach.”
Her records reveal that the state eugenics board had approved a recommendation that she be sterilized because she was labeled as “feeble-minded” and “promiscuous.” They said her schoolwork was poor and that she “does not get along well with others.”
“I was raped by a perpetrator (who was never charged) and then I was raped by the state of North Carolina. They took something from me both times,” she said. “The state of North Carolina, they took something so dearly from me, something that was God given.”
It wouldn’t be until Riddick was 19, married and wanting more children that she’d learn she was incapable of having any more babies. A doctor in New York where she was living at the time told her that she’d been sterilized. “Butchered. The doctor used that word… I didn’t understand what she meant when she said I had been butchered,” Riddick said.
For the past eight years, North Carolina lawmakers have been working to find a way to compensate those involuntarily sterilized in the state between 1929 and 1974. During that time period, 7,600 people were sterilized in North Carolina. Of those who were sterilized, 85 percent of the victims were female and 40 percent were non-white.
“You can’t rewind a watch or rewrite history. You just have to go forward and that’s what we’re trying to do in North Carolina,” said Governor Beverly Perdue in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
While North Carolina’s eugenics board was disbanded in 1977, the law allowing involuntary sterilization wasn’t officially repealed until 2003.
In 2002, the state issued an apology to those who had been sterilized, but the victims have yet to receive any financial compensation, medical care or counseling from the state. Since 2003, three task forces have been created to determine a way to compensate the victims. Officials estimate that as many as 2,000 victims are still alive. Riddick was one of several victims to speak at a public hearing this summer. It was the first time that many survivors had told their stories publicly and that others heard of North Carolina’s tarnished past.
“To think about folks who went in…and their doctor told them this was birth control and they were sterilized…the folks who didn’t have the capacity to make the decisions, the uninformed consent,” said Perdue. “Those types of stories aren’t good for America and I can’t allow for this period in history to be forgotten, that’s why this work is important.”
Only 48 victims have been matched with their records, something necessary for them to eventually be compensated. State Representative Larry Womble has been advocating for the survivors of the state’s sterilization program for nearly 10 years. He helped fight for the repeal of the state’s law.
Womble said that if the government is “powerful enough to perpetrate this on this society, they ought to be responsible, step up to the plate and compensate.”
In August, a task force created by Gov. Perdue recommended that the victims be compensated, but they were unsure how much to award the victims. Previous numbers pondered range between $20,000 and $50,000. The task force also recommended mental health services for living victims and a traveling museum exhibit about North Carolina’s eugenics program.
Perdue said it’s a challenge to determine how much money each victim should be given. “From my perspective, and as a woman, and as the governor of this state, this is not about the money. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay these people for what has been done to them, but money is part of the equation,” she said.
Some victims and their advocates have questioned whether North Carolina is procrastinating in compensating them, hoping they’ll die before a solution is reached. “It’s an ugly chapter in North Carolina’s book, we have a wonderful book, but there’s an ugly chapter,” Womble said. “We must step up to the plate and we must realize and take responsibility.”
Perdue, for her part, said that she is committed to helping the victims.
“I want this solved on my watch. I want there to be completion. I want the whole discussion to end and there be action for these folks. There is nobody in North Carolina who is waiting for anybody to die,” Gov. Perdue said. Despite the state social workers who declared Riddick was “mentally retarded” and “promiscuous”, she went to college and raised the son born moments before she was sterilized. Her son is devoted to his mother and a successful entrepreneur.
Elaine is proud of her achievements. “I don’t know where I would be if I listened to the state of North Carolina,” she said.
End Of Story...
LinkedIn: Jack Swint
Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Weston State Hospital)
LinkedIn: Jack Swint
Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (Weston State Hospital)