Originally published April 4 2015
Think eugenics could never come to America? It already has: victims now being compensated in Virginia
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) The 11 remaining victims of a covert sterilization program that took place in Virginia between the years of 1924 and 1979 have received compensation by the commonwealth, according to new reports. The Virginia General Assembly set aside $400,000 in its budget to compensate each living victim of the program $25,000 as a symbolic reparation for this dark time in the state's history.
A protocol of the Virginia Eugenical Sterilization Act, the sterilizations were performed on victims at a number of hospitals throughout the state in an attempt to prevent certain "undesirables" from reproducing. Many other states eventually modeled their own sterilization legislation on this Act, as did Nazi Germany with its more well known eugenics programs.
Lewis Reynolds, now 87, is one of the few surviving victims who recently received compensation. The Lynchburg resident was sterilized by the state when he was 13, but he didn't realize at the time what had happened. But recalling when his first wife left him because he was unable to produce children, he says he now recognizes the damage that was done.
"I think they done me wrong," he told The Associated Press (AP). "I couldn't have a family like everybody else does. They took my rights away."
According to the AP, sterilizations in Virginia took place at six state institutions, including at Lynchburg's "Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and Feeble Minded," which has since been renamed the Central Virginia Training Center. Reynolds was admitted to this facility at 13 after being presumed to have epilepsy, but it turned out that he was actually just exhibiting temporary symptoms as a result of being hit in the head with a rock.
At least 65,000 Americans were sterilized by the government between 1924 and 1979 Fortunately for Reynolds, he was still able to remarry and live a long, fulfilling life. He joined the Marine Corps and served in two wars, and was also a military policeman and a firearms instructor, and at one time taught FBI agents how to shoot. He also manned a 50-caliber machine gun in Korea.
But Reynolds' reluctant fate is overshadowed by the unknown fates of the many others like him who were sterilized, but who are now dead, never having been acknowledged or compensated for being medically molested by the state. According to Mark Bold, executive director of the Christian Law Institute, some 65,000 Americans were sterilized in 33 states as an offshoot of Virginia's sterilization laws, without recompense or compensation.
Virginia is the second state to approve compensation for victims of its eugenics program, with North Carolina being the first. Back in 2013, North Carolina approved payments of $50,000 for each of the remaining victims of its eugenics program.
Eugenics was openly affirmed in the U.S. during the 1930s Sterilization programs like the one in Virginia really picked up steam across the U.S. in the 1930s, right after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of upholding Virginia's eugenics law. The infamous words of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., writing for the majority at the time, affirmed that eugenics was alive and well in America when he declared that "three generations of imbeciles are enough."
"There was a growing consensus that we needed to act while we still had the opportunity to look these people in the eye and acknowledge the wrong that was committed against them so many years ago," stated Delegate Ben Cline, one of the sponsors of the compensation measure.
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