North Carolina’s Eugenic Past

By Claire, Communications Intern

Way back when we started this blog we had a post about the now defunct sterilization program in North Carolina.  A formal apology was issued in 2002, but until now talk of compensation for the victims of the program had been stalled.  Governor Perdue has stated she is determined to fix that problem while she is in office.  She set up the NC Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation under the Department of Administration in order to “provide information and assistance to affected individuals.”  Currently the Governor’s Task Force is assessing the best method for compensation.

North Carolina operated its eugenics board and sterilization program from 1929 to 1974.  Thirty-one other states had eugenics programs during this time as well.  The goal of eugenics committees was to identify “degenerate elements” in American society and prevent them from reproducing and passing their “degenerate genetics” onto the next generation.  They were concerned with actual inheritable traits like epilepsy, and traits they assumed to be inheritable like alcoholism, promiscuity and “feeble-mindedness.”  In North Carolina the population viewed by the board to be degenerate was overwhelmingly female and disproportionately people of color.  One third of the sterilizations were performed on people under the age of 18.  At least 7, 600 people were sterilized in North Carolina; only around 2,000 are still alive.

Eliane Riddick, who we covered in our first eugenics post, is a perfect example of how terrible and misguided the eugenics movement was.  Riddick was raped by a neighbor when she was 13.  She became pregnant and the eugenics committee saw her as a prime candidate for sterilization.  Underage, black, poor, unwed and pregnant; she was everything they thought needed fixing in North Carolina.   Instead of helping Riddick through her traumatic ordeal, they labeled her “promiscuous” and “feeble-minded.”  She was sterilized without her consent or knowledge right after her son was born.  Her rapist was never brought to justice.  Her story is not uncommon for the tens of thousands of people sterilized in the name of public health over the decades.  More information about her and about North Carolina’s shameful history can be found here.

We have to remember that choice is more than about the right to pregnancy prevention and abortion.  For so many people it is just the opposite.  Everyone deserves to make the best decisions for themselves with all the facts given to them in a medically accurate, unbiased way.   Forcing someone to be sterilized is just as bad as forcing them to be pregnant.

Anti-Choice News Round-Up

Mirroring the situation in Kansas earlier this year, a new law has been proposed in Pennsylvania that would effectively close most, if not all, abortion clinics.  Bill 732 will require clinics remodel their buildings to follow the codes and rules of ambulatory surgical facilities.  At the same time the bill would require a registered nurse to be present in whatever room a patient is in.  According to Pennsylvanians for Choice, these new measures would force most of the 20 clinics in the state to close because they do not have the time or resources to renovate their buildings.

A hearing in North Dakota on the outlawing of drugs used in medical abortions has been put on hold again.  The hearing will not happen until sometime next year.  North Dakota passed a law earlier this year to ban the “off-label” use of drugs which are commonly used in early medical abortions.  This would effectively make medical abortion illegal in North Dakota.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as well as the World Health Organization support the use of these drugs for medical abortion.

Ohio’s controversial “heartbeat bill” is currently awaiting a Senate vote.  Supporters of the bill have wasted no time mobilizing their target audience.   TV commercials supporting the bill will air next week  during The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity.

Michigan has introduced legislation that will make physicians screen patients for abortion coercion and domestic violence before they perform abortions.  Physicians will be required to tell victims of domestic violence that coercion is illegal and grounds for civil action, and delay the abortion for 24 hours.  They will also be required to have pamphlets on domestic violence in their office for patients to view.  Unfortunately this bill does not cover reproductive coercion in whole; it only addresses “abortion coercion” and leaves out any redress for women being coerced into pregnancy and motherhood.  While the bill states it will offer “financial compensation” to women who seek civil action over their abuse, it is also unclear how the state will help protect and empower women (and their potential children) from further abuse.

Sign Our Petition!

Last week we released our report on the dangers of crisis pregnancy centers in North Carolina.

This week we want your support in calling for state regulation of these CPCs to prevent further misinformation from negatively affecting the lives of North Carolinians.

Add your name to a growing list of North Carolinians who agree that all people in our state deserve medically accurate and unbiased information!

Sign the petition here!

854 Injunction Issued!

Good news for women in North Carolina.   The lawsuit against anti-abortion H.B. 854 received an injunction earlier this week!

The portion of the law that mandates some of what physicians are required to tell women, including a an ultrasound and description of the fetus, has been blocked.  The rest of the law goes into effect today, including the 24-hour waiting period.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles stated that proponents of the law “have not articulated how the speech-and-display requirements address the stated concern in reducing compelled abortions, and none is immediately apparent.”

This ruling is a step in the right direction.

Another hearing is scheduled for December.  We can only hope that Judge Eagles recognizes what an incredible violation of privacy and bodily autonomy this law is.

Mississippi Personhood Amendment

Bt Claire, Communications Intern

A constitutional amendment to re-define the definition of when life begins to the moment of fertilization was proposed in Mississippi a while back.  The November 8th vote is quickly approaching as pro-choice activists try to persuade the public of the long-term, dangerous and invasive consequences of Amendment 26.

Amendment 26 states that  “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”  Opponents of this amendment are very concerned about the implications this new definition will have on the legality or criminalization of birth control methods, miscarriage, bodily autonomy, in vitro fertilization and other fertility treatments, and other issues pertaining to pregnancy or potential pregnancy.   

Currently, both gubernatorial candidates from both parties support the amendment. 

Mississippi already has some of the strictest abortion restrictions in the country.  This amendment has a real chance of passing despite its far-reaching effects on all potential pregnancies, including wanted pregnancies that may end in miscarriage and those created with IVF. 

If you have any pro-choice friends or family in Mississippi, or know people who simply don’t believe in the government enforcing such a vague and potentially dangerous constitutional amendment, make sure to let them know to vote NO on Amendment 26. 

If you’d like to get involved or donate money visit Mississippians for Healthy Families

Or donate your time and money to Parents Against MS 26.