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Questions, answers about history of eugenics in US

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A. Under the state's eugenics program, which began in 1929, more than 7,600 people underwent sterilizations. Some procedures were forced to weed out the "feebleminded" while others were a voluntary form of birth control. Up to 1,800 people who were sterilized in North Carolina may be alive. The state has verified 146 living victims.

Unlike most states, the North Carolina program expanded after World War II, and shifted toward targeting poor black women.


A. Some state legislators, including the House speaker, supported paying surviving victims $50,000 each, but lawmakers did not include any funding in the state budget.

North Carolina is the first state to seriously propose compensating victims. About 65,000 Americans in more than 30 states were sterilized between 1907 and the mid-1970s.

Details of the North Carolina program became widely known after historian Johanna Schoen obtained once-confidential documents and provided them to the Winston-Salem Journal, which published a series of articles in 2002 profiling victims. Then-Gov. Mike Easley apologized, but the compensation proposal didn't gain widespread support until 2011.


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