Forsyth split on eugenics compensation

Debra Conrad

Forsyth split on eugenics compensation
June 16
11:45 2016



A bill letting large counties set up their own eugenics compensation programs passed the N.C. House of Representatives, 100-11, on Monday, June 13.

The bill, SB 29, is a response to those who didn’t qualify for the state’s eugenics compensation program because their sterilization was authorized by a county and not the state. It lets counties with populations of more than 350,000 people set up their own compensation program for such victims, which the counties would pay for themselves.

There are looming questions involving where more counties will be added to those eligible, whether local county commission boards will use their discretion to pay eligible victims out of their county general funds and how much, and whether the N.C. Senate and House can agree on final details so that the bill can be made law. The measure that passed the House Monday differs substantially from the original Senate bill which passed in March 2015.

The legislation applies to Forsyth, Guilford, Wake and Mecklenburg counties. It passed the N.C. Senate without a single “nay” vote, where it was co-sponsored by Senator Joyce Krawiec, a Republican whose district includes Forsyth. Despite the overwhelming bipartisan support, there was still a split among the Forsyth county legislative delegation on it.

“I support this legislation one hundred percent,” said N.C. Rep. Ed Hanes in a statement. “I had to fight some people close to home to ensure Forsyth’s inclusion, and that’s a disgrace.”

N.C. Rep. Debra Conrad was among 11 Republicans that voted against the bill, and the only Forsyth County lawmaker to oppose it.

Hanes said during a short session that a bill affecting particular counties cannot proceed if any member of that county’s legislative delegation objects. He said Conrad objected to the bill and wanted Forsyth County removed from it. Hanes said she cited objections from Forsyth County commissioners for her opposition. He said none had contacted him with concerns about the bill, which is voluntary for counties to participate in. He said Conrad eventually relented, letting the bill proceed, but voting against it.

Hanes said the bill is for the largest counties in the state since that is where known cases of county sterilization happened. If it’s need-ed in other counties, the General Assembly could revisit the issue, he said.

Senator Paul Lowe said he was also glad it passed. “I’m concerned that folks in Forsyth get compensated just like everyone else,” said Lowe. “I want everyone to get compensated.”

Compensation for eugenics victims was a cause championed by former Forsyth lawmakers Larry Womble and the late Earline Parmon, which led to a $10 million state program to compensate eugenics victims. About 7,600 people were sterilized by North Carolina’s eugenics board between 1929 and 1974. The victims were usually poor, often minority, and deemed “feeble-minded” and thus “undesirable” to have children.

About Author

Todd Luck

Todd Luck

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors