July 4, 2022

Calls for Virginia to compensate sterilization victims

Pressure is mounting on legislators in Virginia to compensate victims of its forced sterilization policy in the early years of the last century.

Pressure is mounting on legislators in Virginia to compensate victims of its forced sterilization policy in the early years of the last century. The neighboring state of North Carolina this year approved a $10 million compensation fund for surviving victims. Two Virginian delegates, from opposite sides of the political spectrum, are now calling on their legislature to act. 

Republican Bob Marshall and Democrat Patrick Hope told reporters on Monday that they would move a bill next year to recompense survivors.

“You’re not going to ever come close to compensating for their loss,” said Hope. But, he added, it’s a first step toward healing.

“It’s horrible that we participated in this and became an example for the Third Reich,” Marshall said.

Media outlets around the nation have expressed their resounding support for the move.

“If North Carolina can do the right thing by making $10 million in one-time payments, so can Virginia”, wrote the editorial team of the Washington Post.

Virginia had one of the most aggressive sterilization campaigns out of any US state. Between 1924 and 1979 they conducted around 7500 sterilizations.

It was a Virginia case inspired the famous 1927 Supreme Court decision that sanctioned eugenics. “”Three generations of imbeciles are enough,” wrote the Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. 

Xavier Symons
Creative commons
eugenics
informed consent
sterilization