Against Their Will: North Carolina's Sterilization Program 

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This summer, for the first time in the nation?s history, a state is poised to pay reparations to the victims of eugenics, or involuntary sterilization. North Carolina?s historic debate over its eugenic past was launched by Against Their Will, a series in the Winston-Salem Journal. A team of reporters exposed the scientific flaws and racial bias of the eugenics program through interviews with victims, the doctors who operated on them, the bureaucrats who ran the program, and long-hidden documents that historian Johanna Schoen shared with a reporter. The victims were wives and daughters. Unwed mothers. Children. Even a 10-year-old boy. Some were blind or mentally retarded. Toward the end they were mostly black and poor, and it all took place not in the distant past, but up until the 1970s. For more than 40 years North Carolina ran one of the nation?s largest and most aggressive sterilization programs. It expanded after World War II with help from a wealthy New Yorker and an heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune, even as most other states pulled back in light of the horrors of Hitler?s Germany.

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