One woman is still pushing for justice after the state of North Carolina sterilized her against her will.
Elaine Riddick stood up before a room full of strangers to share her heart-wrenching experience as she recounted how she was sterilized in her youth.
She was just 13 years old when she got pregnant in 1967 after she was raped by a neighbor in Winfall, North Carolina. When she gave birth to a son by C-section nine months later, Elaine awoke to discover that doctors had also performed a procedure that would make impossible for her to have any other kids.
“Got to the hospital and they put me in a room and that’s all I remember; that’s all I remember,” Elaine told MSNBC. “When I woke up, I woke up with bandages on my stomach.” She would later discover that her fallopian tubes had been cut and tied.
This was simply one more surgery in a state-approved sterilization program aimed at keeping poor people from having more kids and creating a great burden on the welfare system. Over time, the focus of the program turned to target more Black people than any other group.
Though Elaine had sued North Carolina for $1 million in the past, she’s lost her push for compensation. The U.S. Supreme Court has also refused to hear her case.
The most that any of the victims have gotten in the way of reparations is an apology from then-Gov. Mike Easley that was published in the Winston-Salem Journal in 2002.
Gov. Bev Perdue, who is now running the state, wants to take it a step further than just words. In the meantime, she is fighting off speculation that North Carolina is simply biding its time until the victims demanding compensation hopefully fade away.
"I want this solved on my watch. I want there to be completion. I want the whole discussion to end and there be action for these folks. There is nobody in North Carolina who is waiting for anybody to die,” she said.