From 1929 until 1974, the state of North Carolina sterilized 7,600 individuals whom it deemed unfit to have children. While some suffered from mental disease, many were poor and black and were often selected by the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, which consisted of five individuals, to not have children after engaging in premarital sex.
Such was not always the case, as detailed in the story of Elaine Riddick, who was raped and became pregnant in 1967 at the age of 13. After she gave birth to her son, the state ordered that she be sterilized, labeling her “feebleminded” and “promiscuous”.
In an interview with NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams, which premiered Monday, Elaine explained:
“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. The state of North Carolina, they took something so dearly from me, something that was God given.”
North Carolina lawmakers have spent the last eight years trying to find a way to compensate the victims, after issuing an apology in 2002. Elaine was one of several victims to speak at a hearing earlier this year, the first time many had ever spoken publicly about their sterilization. According to published reports, the compensation figure ranges between $20,000 and $50,000. Elaine, however, once sued the state for $1 million, and the case made it to the Supreme Court before it declined to hear it. North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, in the NBC interview, said “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.”
Check out Elaine Riddick’s video below, as she speaks out about being a victim of sterilization.