Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sterilization documents can be shocking

"You wouldn't expect a moron to run a train,  or a feebleminded woman to teach school,"  begins a 1950 pamphlet from the Human Betterment League of North Carolina.  The brochure,  illustrated with Dick-and-Jane style drawings,  pitches the notion that it's a favor to all concerned to stop "feebleminded" people from having children.

That's among the many public documents to be found at the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims web site,  along with data about North Carolina's eugenic sterilization program,  information about how to verify whether you or loved ones were operated on as part of the program and a preliminary report from the task force created to advise the governor on possible compensation.

Reps.  Larry Womble and Earline Parmon have introduced a bill that would provide $20,000 each for living victims,  though Womble has said he thinks the payments should be higher.  That bill has yet to make it out of committee for a vote.

This summer,  the John Locke Foundation released a paper arguing for compensation as a means of reminding government not to interfere in the private lives of citizens.

North Carolina has been grappling with its history of ordering tubal ligations,  hysterectomies,  vasectomies and castrations on children and adults deemed unfit to reproduce since a 2002 series in the Winston-Salem Journal exposed the story.  In 2005, researcher Johanna Schoen,  who uncovered the records that led to that series,  published "Choice & Coercion,"  which provides even more details about eugenic sterilization,  birth control and abortion in North Carolina.

And if you're still looking for more,  the University of Vermont has summarized the eugenic sterilization movement in all states.