U.S. Victims Speak Out on Force Sterilization

U.S. Victims Speak Out on Force Sterilization, Raped by a criminal, sterilised by the state against her will at 13: Woman 'butchered' by US doctors speaks out. North Carolina officials have tracked down less than three dozen of the thousands of residents forced to undergo sterilisations between 1929 and 1974.

And among them stands Elaine Riddick, who was 13-years-old when she got pregnant after being raped by a neighbour in her hometown of Winfall in 1967.

The state, she says, ordered that immediately after giving birth doctors cut and tied of her fallopian tubes.

The Charlotte Observer reports that state officials believe at least 1,500 of the 7,600 people sterilized under a state program are still alive. But only 41 files have been matched to living survivors or relatives of the dead.

The Eugenics Board approved sterilizations for people who suffered from mental illness, epilepsy and those with low intelligence.

Ms Riddick said she was never told what was happening after a five-person state eugenics board in Raleigh approved a recommendation that she be sterilised.

She told MSNBC: '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.'

According to the network, records label Ms Riddick as 'feebleminded' and 'promiscuous'.

Despite this, she went on to raise the son she had before the horrific procedure, graduated college and became a successful entrepreneur.

It wasn't until she was 19, when she and her husband set out to start a family, that she learned she was unable to have more children.

'Butchered. The doctor used that word... I didn’t understand what she meant when she said I had been butchered,' Ms Riddick said.

The scars, she said, are a constant reminder.

'I have to live with this for the rest of my life,' she added.

North Carolina was one of 31 states to have a government run eugenics program. Most were abolished after World War II.

State officials are now considering compensating survivors.

The Governor's Eugenics Compensation Task Force, created in March, recommended in August the state should pay for mental health services for the fewer than 2,000 of the nearly 7,600 residents forcibly sterilised from 1929 to 1974 who are believed to be still alive.

The preliminary report did not settle on an amount for financial damages. The task force said it had discussed providing between $20,000 and $50,000 to each verified living victim and recognized an 'urgent need' to move forward.

The task force acknowledged that 'no amount of money can replace or give value to what has been done to nearly 7,600 people - men, women, boys, girls, African Americans, whites, American Indians, the poor, undereducated, and disabled - who our state and its citizens judged, targeted, and labelled 'morons,' 'unfit,' and 'feebleminded.'"

If payments are ultimately approved, North Carolina would become the first state to do more than apologise for forced sterilizations, which were popular in the United States during the 1930s, the task force said.

A final report is due in six months.


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