North Carolina Comes to Terms with History of Forced Sterilizations

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

rally2.jpg A pregnant health care worker

Eugenics laws allowed more than 30 states to sterilize people "undeemed to breed" for nearly a century. While it is irrevocably associated with the super-race fetish and ethnic cleansing of Nazi Germany, the so-called science of eugenics is actually an American distortion of medical science. Much of the murky original research and theories of how societies might take control of their own gene pools to increase the numbers of intelligent people — and eliminate those deemed feeble-minded — took place on Long Island, at the same laborotory where DNA was first identified.

Several of the nearly 3,000 living victims of forced sterilization in North Carolina will testify before a commission today. Until 1974, North Carolina had one of the most aggressive eugenics movements in the country, sterilizing an estimated 7,600 people who were deemed "socially or intellectually unfit" to have children.

North Carolina State Rep. Larry Womble was instrumental in removing the state’s eugenics law from the books in 2003 and in organizing today’s listening session, which he hopes will eventually lead to reparations for the victims. Paul Lombardo is a professor of law at Georgia State University, who specializes in the history of eugenics laws. He's also the author of "Three Generations, No Imbeciles."


Paul Lombardo and Larry Womble

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [10]


"Listener", you're hilarious. I've never seen such a spot-on spoof of the Right's nutty thought processes!

Aug. 03 2011 04:40 PM
Myles from NY

I wanted to share this song by Dana Mase that honors victims of institutionalization/eugenics. If the link does not appear here, a search on YouTube or iTunes for "She Never Knew She Never Knew" will lead you to it.

Jun. 23 2011 06:30 PM
aaron from california

Did it work?

Jun. 23 2011 04:40 AM

When the gentleman says "....what the government has done, this was the government.." he makes an excellent point.
This segment discusses race, geography, science and class but wasn't the Democrat Party machine was running the government in North Carolina at the time and approved these infamous laws and practices? Shouldn't these warnings from history be discussed when the Democrat Party today in a "progressive" effort to "do something good for society" passes an unread healthcare law "to see what's in it"?

Jun. 22 2011 01:45 PM
Dan from Minnesota

Have to remember that taking the reproductive organs out of people causes lots of problems too. And it is a very slippery slope, leading always towards horrible things in a society.

Jun. 22 2011 01:14 PM
K from larchmont

Larchmont?!?! I'm from Larchmont and I have a brother named Ed who would might say something like that.... r u my brother?

Jun. 22 2011 11:20 AM
Ryan from Georgia

While race based eugenics is certainly a terrible thing I can't help but have the socially abrasive point of view that those with crippling and genetically expressed diseases should, if mentally capable, seriously consider the decision to have children. There is no benefit to humanity to pass down debilitating mutations and illness and I think an individual's debt to society outweighs any selfish decision to have children they cannot care for or that will lead an obviously disadvantaged and sometimes painful life.

This comment will certainly bother people but if you take the knee jerk emotion out of it my points make perfect sense.

Jun. 22 2011 11:07 AM
Ed from Larchmont

After World War II the word 'eugenics' couldn't be used, so they joined the contraception league to form Planned Parenthood.

Jun. 22 2011 09:44 AM

Please remember to discuss Planned Parenthood/Margaret Sanger's shameful history of supporting eugenics. (esp. against blacks.)

Jun. 22 2011 08:56 AM
anna from New York

Very important topic. There is a book on negative eugenics and American - Nazi connections - Edwin Black's The War Against the Weak.

Jun. 22 2011 07:02 AM

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