Against Their Will: North Carolina's Sterilization Program

Number 19607
Subject State Government
Source Journal (Winston-Salem
State North Carolina
Year 2002
Publication Date Dec. 8-12
Summary The Winston-Salem Journal investigates the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, a state sterilization program that sterilized more than 7,600 residents from 1929 to 1974. The board "operated under the principle that some human suffering could be eliminated by allowing sterilization for three reasons -- epilepsy, sickness and feeblemindedness" -- but before it was officially disbanded, the board "veered far off it's original path with little public scrutiny and virtually no official oversight." The Winston-Salem Journal investigation found that "North Carolina continued -- and even expanded -- its sterilization program long after most other states backed away from the idea that mental illness, genetic defects and social ills could be eliminated by sterilizing the 'unfit.' ... In the later years, the program increasingly targeted unwed mothers, especially black women and girls. By the 1960s, more than 60 percent of those sterilized were black although the state's black population was 25 percent."
Pages 99
Keywords Eugenics Board of North Carolina;sterilization;epilepsy;sickness;feeblemindedness;1920s;Hitler;unwed mothers;blacks;African Americans;oversight
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