Victims of a government-sponsored mass sterilization in North Carolina that targeted minorities will receive no compensation for their plight, the state’s Senate decided this week.
The measure was blocked by Senate Republicans, who refused to support setting aside $10 million in the state’s budget for compensating the roughly 1,800 victims who are still alive, ABC News reported.
Not all Republicans were opposed to the measure. House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican from Mecklenburg, said he considered it a “personal failure” that the funding wasn’t included in the state’s final budget, the Raleigh News and Observer reported.
“It’s something I’ll continue to work on,” he told the paper.
Close to 7,600 people, mostly poor minorities, were sterilized by the North Carolina Eugenics Board between 1929 and 1974, ABC reported. The N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation has found 146 victims of the estimated 1,800 so far. But the foundation will soon be shutting its doors soon, too—it has lost state funding.
The state’s program was one of the largest eugenics efforts in the nation, ABC reported, targeting poor and uneducated people as well as those with mental or physical disabilities. Decisions to sterilize patients were made by a five-member panel.
One victim, 58-year-old Elaine Riddick, was sterilized without her consent or knowledge when she was 14 and delivered a baby after she had been rated, ABC reported. She was left in tears after the state’s Senate voted against the compensation which would have given her close to $50,000, her attorney said.
“She’s suffered for so long, and now this is just pouring salt on a wound that has been there for years and years and years,” her lawyer, Willie Gary, told ABC News.
Riddick said she plans to start a class action lawsuit for victims of the forced sterilization.