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Examiner.com: Patrick Hope calls on Virginia to take full responsibility for eugenics Print


Created:  Saturday, August 9, 2012

On Monday, Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington County) and the Christian Law Center both called upon the state of Virginia to take "full responsibility" for the coerced sterilization of close to 8,000 individuals in Virginia from 1924 through 1979, a move that could mean monetary payouts to living victims.[1]

The forced sterilizations that occurred in Virginia between 1924 and 1979 are a period of Virginia's history that is little known by many Virginians. But in 2002, Mark R. Warner, then governor of Virginia, issued "the commonwealth's sincere apology for Virginia's participation in eugenics." Countrywide, as many as 60,000 individuals were sterilized.[2]

Overall, Virginia ranked second only to California in sterilizations, which had 20,000.[3]

In their joint statement released on Monday, Del. Hope noted Warner's apology but added, "Now we should take it a step further, and Virginia should take full responsibility for its actions."

Although Hope suggested that further research is necessary to identify the sterilization victims in Virginia and to determine how many are still living, North Carolina proposed a $50,000 "award" for each sterilization victim earlier this year.[4]

While Mark Warner's apology was a solid first step in confronting Virginia's history of sterilization, deeds often speak louder than words. If Virginia truly wants to show its citizens and the rest of the country that it's serious about "making up" for the thousands of forced sterilizations it will push forward with efforts to find living victims and compensate them for the morally unconscionable actions that were taken against them.

There won't ever be an agreement on what the appropriate award is, but offering up monetary compensation is a symbol of how serious Virginia is about righting the wrongs of the past. And it will serve as a lesson for the future that horrible acts perpetrated against citizens of the commonwealth will not be brushed aside with merely an apology.