North Carolina governors can call a special session of the legislature to address crucial concerns. Gov. Bev Perdue, in her last days in office, should do that as part of a final effort to get the state’s forced sterilization victims the help she told them she’d push for as she ran for office four years ago.
She should also urge nonprofit foundations, including ones at hospitals throughout the state, to challenge the legislature with matching grants on compensation.
Our state sterilized more than 7,600 men, women and children from 1929 through 1974, all to “better society” and reduce welfare payments. The powerful and prominent led in rendering barren the poor and powerless, often bullying them into operations through their minions, social workers with unprecedented powers in such matters.
The Journal exposed the program’s terrible excesses in its 2002 investigative series, “Against Their Will.” Promises of help quickly followed, then fizzled.
But finally, last summer, with worldwide cameras trained on North Carolina, the state legislature was poised to finally help the victims, a landmark move in America. The Republican legislature was going to succeed in making amends for a program that was created by Democrats. House Speaker Thom Tillis persuaded his chamber to overwhelmingly approve $50,000 in compensation for each living victim of the sterilization program.
But his Republican counterpart in the state Senate, Phil Berger of Rockingham County, wouldn’t even take the matter to a vote in his chamber.
A special session, pushed on by matching grants, could rectify the Senate’s negligence.
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