Under a bill filed Wednesday, victims of North Carolina's decadeslong sterilization program would receive $50,000 each, making the state the first in the nation to compensate people who lost their child-bearing abilities to the practice. The development brings the state one step closer to a long-delayed measure of justice that many have known for some time is, as one state legislator said, "the right thing to do."
The Winstom-Salem Journal reports:
"I am very elated at this milestone because it is a milestone," said Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth, who has led the fight for compensation for more than 10 years. "All the eyes of the world are on North Carolina as to what we're going to do, finally. I feel very confident; I feel very hopeful; and I feel very positive that the legislators are going to do the right thing."
Womble wasn't at the Legislature Wednesday when the bill was filed because he's at home in Winston-Salem, where he's recovering from injuries suffered in a car wreck in December that killed another man. He said in a telephone interview that he's especially pleased that the bill's sponsors include Democrats, Republicans, blacks, white, men and women.
The bill's House sponsors include Speaker Thom Tillis, which is unusual because the leader of the chamber doesn't typically sponsor bills. The Republican said he would consider it a personal failure if eugenics compensation legislation didn't pass this year. He said he's wanted to do something for the victims of forced sterilization ever since he was first briefed on the issue four years ago.
"I'm somebody who likes to stake myself out and I want folks to know I have a personal interest in seeing us move forward," Tillis said, adding the bill is "the right thing to do."
Read more at the Winston-Salem Journal.