Decades after their lives were forever altered, surviving victims of Virginia’s forced sterilization program have been granted a shred of justice.
The Virginia General Assembly approved $400,000 on Thursday to compensate the 11 surviving victims in the state who were involuntarily sterilized between 1924 and 1979 – the years of the Virginia Eugenical Sterilization Act’s reign. Each survivor is set to receive $25,000 apiece.
Targets of the eugenics movement, which sought to improve the gene pool by preventing those considered “defective” from reproducing, were disproportionately black, female and poor. More than 30 states sterilized approximately 65,000 Americans in the last century, according the Associated Press.
Such programs were sanctioned by a 1927 Supreme Court decision, in which Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote for the majority, “It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”
North Carolina is the only other state to have approved compensation for Eugenics victims.