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N.C. sterilization victims to testify

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Nearly 35 years after ending the country's most active postwar sterilization program, North Carolina is the only state trying to make amends to thousands of people who cannot have children because of eugenics-inspired theories about social improvement.

Next week, victims and their relatives will tell their stories to a state task force considering compensation to victims of sterilizations that continued into 1974.

North Carolina has more victims living than any other state, said Charmaine Fuller Cooper of the state Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation.

Eugenics programs gained popularity around the world in the early 1900s, but most efforts were abandoned after World War II because of outrage over Nazi sterilization policy. But North Carolina's expanded, with sterilizations peaking in the 1950s and early 1960s. Those sterilized ranged from the mentally disabled to the poor.

At least seven, including North Carolina, of the 33 states that had eugenics programs have offered formal apologies for involuntary sterilizations. -- AP