Your Black World reports
Elaine Riddick was 13-years old when she got pregnant after being raped by a neighbor. This happened in 1967, and right after she gave birth, the state ordered her to be sterilized.
“I have to carry these scars with me. I have to live with this for the rest of my life,” she said.
Riddick was never told that she was being sterilized. “Got to the hospital and they put me in a room and that’s all I remember, that’s all I remember,” she said. “When I woke up, I woke up with bandages on my stomach.”
The records show that a eugenics board approved a recommendation for Riddick to be sterilized. She’d been labeled by the state to be “feebleminded” and “promiscuous.”
They also said that she “does not get along well with others.”
“I was raped by a perpetrator [who was never charged] and then I was raped by the state of North Carolina. They took something from me both times,” she said. “The state of North Carolina, they took something so dearly from me, something that was God given.”
When Riddick was married at 19 and wanted to have more kids, she found out that she couldn’t have children. A doctor in New York, where she was living at the time, told her that she’d been sterilized.
“Butchered. The doctor used that word… I didn’t understand what she meant when she said I had been butchered,” Riddick said.
North Carolina wasn’t the only state in the country to have a sterilization program, 31 other states had similar initiatives in place. Eugenicists believed that poverty, promiscuity and alcoholism were inherited traits that could be controlled through sterilization. African Americans were highly affected by the program, with girls as young as nine years old having their fertility destroyed.
The state of North Carolina is now seeking ways to compensate women for what they’ve gone through. Between 1929 and 1974, 7,600 people were sterilized in North Carolina. Roughly 40% of the victims were non-white, and 85% of them were women.
“You can’t rewind a watch or rewrite history. You just have to go forward and that’s what we’re trying to do in North Carolina,” said Governor Beverly Perdue in an interview with NBC News.