CommunityPam's House Blend

Eugenics in NC: forced sterilization of women

I don’t know how I missed this article in the March 28 Newsweek, “A Shameful Little Secret“: North Carolina confronts its shameful history of forced sterilization. This practice was not stopped until 1974.

Elaine Riddick and Nial Ramirez were sterilized by the state of NC; access to formerly sealed records indicate reasons for sterilization were as flimsy as being considered lazy or promiscuous. By that standard, skanky, spoiled rich girl Paris Hilton would have been a prime candidate for the procedure.

We know the state didn’t have wealthy white women like Hilton in mind when they took away Riddick’s and Ramirez’s ability to have children. Newsweek reports that ver the last 15 years of its operation, 99 percent of the victims were women; more than 60 percent were black.

Riddick found out what happened to her when she and her husband were having difficulty conceiving.

She soon learned that the operation had been performed by state order in North Carolina in 1968, when she was just 14, and had given birth to a baby after being raped. At the time, she’d assumed doctors were just performing a routine post-birth procedure. The sterilization-consent form had been signed by her neglectful father and her illiterate grandmother, who had marked her assent with an X.

…Nial Ramirez says she was sterilized at 18 after social workers threatened to cut off her mother’s welfare benefits. “We had no way to fight back,” says Ramirez, now 58.

The state offered a public apology two years ago, and reparations have been considered by Governor Mike Easley, though not one cent has been paid to a victim of this atrocity. At least the Tar Heel state is the first to appoint a panel to study on how to best handle the health care and counseling needs of these women, along with financial compensation — it’s small comfort to those that suffered under the knife of the state.

Over thirty states had eugenics programs like this one. You may want to do a little digging into your state’s history. These procedures were ruled constitutional in Buck v. Bell, a 1924 Supreme Court decision that is still the law of the land.

the health of the patient and the welfare of society may be promoted in certain cases by the sterilization of mental defectives, under careful safeguard, &c.; that the sterilization may be effected in males by vasectomy and in females by salpingectomy, without serious pain or substantial danger to life; that the Commonwealth is supporting in various institutions many defective persons who if now discharged would become a menace but if incapable of procreating might be discharged with safety and become self-supporting with benefit to themselves and to society; and that experience has shown that heredity plays an important part in the transmission of insanity, imbecility, &c.;

Do you have any doubt that the wild-eyed American Taliban would find a reason to return to these practices, in the name of the “welfare of society?” They have a clear sense of what they’d like America to be. They are already attempting to control women by restricting access to family planning, attacking abortion rights, and have made it clear that women have taken the notion of equal rights way too far.

And people wonder why minority populations are paranoid about government “science” projects? The whole AIDS-is-a-government-conspiracy rant is not too far-fetched a concept (though I don’t buy that particular one) when you have stories like this and the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, there’s enough evidence that a minority or devalued population is fair game for control and experimentation like lab rats.

Between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) experimented on 400 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These were mostly illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama. They were never told what disease they were suffering from or that it was life-threatening. [President Clinton’s apologized to the eight remaining survivors on May 16, 1997.]

Previous post

Perk up some topics for the Blend

Next post

NC State Sen James Forrester didn't buy his domain name

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding