Past Eugenics and sterilisation programs in the United States are coming back to bite them, with North Carolina currently the first State to address compensation for victims.

According to the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, at one time 31 states in the United States had government-run eugenics programs. In North Carolina alone, close to 8,000 men, women, and children, largely poor, black, disabled or uneducated, were forcibly sterilized from 1929 to 1974.  The programs were aimed at creating a better society by eliminating those considered undesirable. 

Newsday reports:

It’s a question that has not been answered before and doesn’t have an easy solution: How do you repay people for taking away their ability to have children?…Many states ended their eugenics programs because of associations with Nazi Germany’s program aimed at racial purity, but North Carolina in fact ramped up sterilizations after World War II. The state’s sterilizations peaked in the 1950s, with about 70 percent of all sterilizations performed after the war, according to state records. The program didn’t officially end until 1977. It is one of about a half-dozen states to apologize for eugenics programs.

Historian, Edwin Black testified in December before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee commenting:

“The genocidal actions of the American eugenicists were not conducted by men in white sheets, burning crosses at midnight…But by men in white lab coats and in three pieces suits in the fine corridors of our great universities in the state House, in the courthouse, and in the medical society…This was all subject to the rule of law.”

His testimony and analysis can be found here

While such a programme seems unthinkable today, between forty and fifty percent, virtually one in two black babies, are aborted in America today.  Those statistics can’t help but make you wonder about the factors still at play in the decisions of young woman being advised by doctors and clinics like planned parenthood today – and how significantly such high abortion rates are affecting the make-up of the American population still.  It is notable that many family planning associations still have their origins in eugenics, such as Planned Parenthood whose founder, Margaret Sanger, was motivated in part by racial eugenics.

The compensation talks come as the United States proposes new federal rules which would require contraception and sterilization coverage in most new health care plans.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...