North Carolina Urges Sterilization Victims to Come Forward

7/27/2011, 7:14 a.m.

Australia Clay and Bertha Delores Mark spoke on behalf of their mother Margaret Cheek, now deceased, who was institutionalized at the infamous Cherry Hospital, following the birth of her fifth child. Suffering from what is now commonly referred to as post-partem depression, Cheek was tortured, sterilized, and used as a guinea pig for 12 years before being sent home just before Christmas of 1965, after the sterilization consent had been signed. Clay said no one knew the extent of her mother's trauma until reviewing her medical records through the Foundation.

Clay went on to talk about how she believes her mother was sterilized against her knowledge because she loved her children and their father could not read so the signature that is on the medical forms could not possibly be that of their dad. Clay went on to state that her sister, Delores, taught her father how to write his signature later in life and that they believed his signature had been forged.Mrs. Australia Clay recounts her mother was sterilized, tortured, and handled like a "guinea pig" by North Carolina state eugenics officials while hospitalized at Cherry Hospital. / Photo by Shantella Y. Sherman

"She was 40 years old when they decided to just toss her back into our front yard. She had been given electric shock treatments and operated on without anesthesia. Twenty thousand dollars is not compensation enough; there should be some memorial erected to these people. They were not numbers in some medical research book; they were real people with lives and families, and they were destroyed by the state's bogus medicine," Clay said.

In March 2011, Executive Order 83 was issued along with Bill 70, which offered monetary compensation, and Bill 73 that offered professional counseling and healthcare at the state's expense for eugenic sterilization survivors. In 2008, the House Select Committee originally considered $50,000 in compensation to each surviving victim, but later reduced their suggestion to $20,000 per living victim for fear the legislation would not pass.

For more information about the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, visit www.sterilizationvicims.nc.gov or if you believe you were a victim of eugenic sterilization, call their toll free hotline at 1-877-550-6013.