'They butchered me like a hog': Woman who was sterilised against her will refuses to accept $50,000 pay-off
Sterile: Elaine Riddick was just 14-years-old when she was raped, impregnated and forceably sterilised
Elaine Riddick was just 14-years-old when she was raped and became pregnant with her son, 44 years ago.
Social workers at the time presented her case to the North Carolina Eugenics Board who deemed that she was 'feeble-minded' and doomed to 'promiscuity' and as such should be sterilised to prevent any further chance of reproduction.
Though a special task force is now awaiting the state's approval for a compensatory pay-out of $50,000 to the victims of forced sterilisation, Mrs Riddick, from Raleigh, North Carolina, said today she sees it as 'shut-up-and-go-away money.'
She told the LA Times: 'They butchered me like a hog.'
The poor daughter of alcoholic parents the now 57-year-old was considered by the now discredited board as exactly the sort of woman whose offspring and bad parenting would damage society.
So on March 5, 1968, the day she gave birth to her son, her illiterate
grandmother signed an X on a consent form and Mrs Riddick's fallopian
tubes were sliced and cauterised.
The teenage mother had no idea what had
happened to her until she was informed during a medical examination at
the age of 19. She was devastated.
Last year, a special task force was
set up in North Carolina by Governor Beverly Perdue to bring some
semblance of justice to the women who suffered at the hands of the state's eugenics programme.
Now that Mrs Riddick and the 1,500 to 2,000 victims estimated to still be alive may receive compensation, she's even angrier than ever.
Speaking to the LA paper she spat: 'Fifty thousand dollars Is that what they
think my life is worth How much are the kids I never had worth How
She added furiously: 'The state wants me to lie down like a dog and just take it.'
Survivor: A victim of the state's eugenics programme, Mrs Riddick considers the state's $50,000 compensation package as 'shut-up-and-go-away money'
Before the atrocities of World War II,
sterilisation was seen by many – both blacks and whites – as a
legitimate effort to improve society but most abandoned those efforts
after World War II because of the association with Nazi Germany's
programme aimed at racial purity.
North Carolina's programme, however, ramped up procedures even into the Fifties.
the state's eugenics board was shown support by The Human Betterment
League of North Carolina who saw sterilisation as a way of protecting
'the children of future generations and the
community at large.'
Writing in a pamphlet at the time they said: 'You wouldn't expect a moron to run a
train or a feeble-minded woman to teach school.'
Young, poor and black: Elaine Riddick, now 57, was deemed 'feebleminded' and doomed to 'promiscuity' by the state when she was raped at age 14
Panel member, Laura Gerald told the Associated Press: 'We have repeatedly acknowledged and stated as a task force that no
amount of money can adequately pay for the harm done to these citizens.
'We are not attempting through our work to place a value on anyone's
life. However, we are attempting to achieve a level of financial
compensation and other services that can provide meaningful assistance
'Compensation also serves a collective purpose for the state and sends a
clear message that we in North Carolina are people who pay for our
mistakes and that we do not tolerate bureaucracies that trample on basic
Family matters: Now living in Atlanta, Georgia, the mother of one is among thousands who had their fallopian tubes sliced against their will
Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis of Mecklenburg County has said the
state should agree next year to pay victims and wants to form a
legislative committee to work out details so something can be voted upon
during the Legislature's budget-adjusting session in May.
Elaine Riddick's son, Tony, an entrepreneur in North Carolina agrees with his mother that money cannot undo the past. He told the LA Times: 'It's a political game, and it's an insult.'
If the compensation is approved by the Legislature, Mrs Riddick will refuse it.
'I was just a child who was raped,” she concluded after speaking to the LA Times, 'and then the state raped me all over again.'