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NCBA Members Representing Eugenics Victims

NCBA Members Representing Eugenics Victims

Members of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Section and Elder & Special Needs Law Section have agreed to provide pro bono legal representation to victims of North Carolina’s Eugenics program.

These legal services are being provided at no charge to victims who were sterilized through the program, and who have been approved for compensation by the N.C. Industrial Commission. Volunteer lawyers will assist victims with advice and representation regarding federal benefits and estate planning needs. Victims will receive instruction from the N.C. Department of Administration telling them how to contact one of these volunteer lawyers.   

While most states abolished their eugenics programs following World War II, North Carolina continued its program from 1929 until 1974.During that time, more than 7,500 men, women, boys and girls were sterilized.  These victims ranged in age from 10-59. The vast majority of victims were women (85%), and 40% of the victims were non-white. 

After the N.C. Eugenics Board program was abolished by the state legislature in 1977, involuntary eugenics laws were repealed in 2003. Governor Mike Easley issued an apology to victims in 2002, and in 2010, Governor Beverly Perdue created the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation through the Department of Administration to serve as a point of contact for victims and the public.

The N.C. Department of Administration is overseeing the claims process for those who believe they were victimized. Victims will be provided with the contact information for a volunteer attorney near them who can help them determine how eugenics-related compensation will affect their eligibility for federal benefits and create an estate plan that meets their needs. 

For additional information, contact Mary Horowitz at mhorowitz@ncbar.org.