Task force reviews eugenics compensation


Governor Beverly Perdue has created a task force that will review victims' claims.

"This is a whole new ballgame, and I'm thrilled," eugenics victim Mary English said.

English has another chance to tell her story.

"For me, it's freeing because think about it," she said. "I lived with this for 40 years so I get to tell. I get to tell!"

English is a former Fayetteville radio newscaster. She was a single mom in 1972 with three small children and says her doctor offered to help her with birth control. A year later she realized she had been sterilized.

She's one of more than 7,600 people believed sterilized under a secret state sanctioned eugenics program between 1933 and 1973.

Four years ago English first told her story to a House Appropriations Committee that was considering compensating eugenics victims, but last year she was told she didn't qualify for compensation.

"They told me they couldn't find my medical records and there are a lot of people like me that were sterilized," English recalled.

Wednesday a task force created by Governor Beverly Perdue met and talked about previous commission efforts, lost or destroyed medical records and new policies and procedures.

"This is an effort to bring justice to these people and to those who are still alive, and to find a way to compensate them," said Phoebe Zerwick, task force spokesperson.

English says identifying victims may be a struggle.

"There are definitely others out there," she said. "I know them. They know I know them, but they have told me they are not coming forward no matter what."

English says victims are ashamed.

She'll be in Raleigh next month for a listening session with task force members and says the session is as much about compensation as it is about closure. "And that's something victims very seldom ever get a chance to do."

The task force will meet on June 22, and it is required to issue a preliminary report to the Governor by August 1.

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