Report: Rowan ranked high in sterilizations

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rowan was among the counties with the most sterilizations during the most active years of state-sanctioned eugenics, according to information released Wednesday by the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation.
From 1946 to 1968, 120 people were sterilized in Rowan, the foundation says.
The Sterilization Victims Foundation staffs the Governorís Eugenics Task Force, created during the 2009-10 legislative session by Gov. Beverly Perdue to identify and compensate people forcibly sterilized by the state.
The Eugenics Board of North Carolina authorized nearly 7,600 sterilizations from its establishment in 1933 until the practice was abolished in 1974. Many of the people sterilized were poor, undereducated, institutionalized, sick or disabled. They were sterilized by choice, force or coercion.
Though many other states abandoned eugenics after Hitler used the practice trying to purify his nation, the years just after World War II through the 1960s account for about 70 percent of all the sterilizations in North Carolina, the foundation says.
Between July 1946 and June 1968, Mecklenburg County ranked No. 1 in sterilizations with 485, according to numbers provided by the foundation. Guilford ranked second with 167 of the procedures. Rowan was No. 7 with 120.
The top 10 counties accounted for more than 30 percent of all sterilizations during that period, the foundation says. The Top 25 counties accounted for more than 50 percent of the sterilizations performed in the state.
ěIndividuals from rural communities are over-represented in rankings,î said Charmaine Fuller Cooper, executive director of the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. She noted that Charlotte had not yet achieved big-city status during this period.
The other counties in the top 10 from 1946 to 1968 were Gaston, with 161 sterilizations; Pitt with 142; Buncombe with 139; Forsyth with 128; Scotland and Wake with 114 apiece; and Hertford with 106.
Iredell was No. 11 with 104 sterilizations; Cabarrus was No. 20 with 77; Davidson was No. 56 with 36; Stanly was No. 79 with 20; and Davie was No. 86 with 16.
ěWhile sterilization often is perceived as a minority issue, data also shows that white females were more likely to be sterilized than any other group,î she said. Females accounted for 85 percent of the stateís sterilizations that included victims as young as 10.
The Governorís Eugenics Task Force will conduct a public Listening Session at 10 a.m. June 22 at the Eaddy Agronomics Building, 4300 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh. The purpose is to give victims an opportunity to share their experience and state what they believe would be appropriate compensation.
Sterilization victims will receive priority seating. Pre-registration for speakers is encouraged due to time constraints but is not required. For information, call the Sterilization Victims Foundationís toll-free hotline at 1-877-550-6013 or 919-807-4270.
The Sterilization Victims Foundation has created a voluntary, online questionnaire to collect information and recommendations from those who believe they were sterilized under the N.C. Eugenics Board. The form is accessible at www.sterilizationvictims.
Created by Executive Order No. 83, the Eugenics Task Force will recommend possible methods or forms of compensation. The task force is required to issue a preliminary report to the governor by Aug. 1 and a final report by Feb. 1, 2012.
Visit the website or call the Sterilization Victims Foundationís toll-free hotline. Foundation staff is available to assist callers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.