In the 1940s, the state Department of Public Welfare started to promote more sterilizations to help address “solutions to poverty and illegitimacy,” the sterilization victims foundation’s site reports.

“In the late 1950s, a dramatic rise of sterilizations occurred amongst White women that did not reside in state institutions and African Americans,” the foundation’s site says of how the program was administered. “Prior to the 1950s, many of the sterilization orders primarily impacted persons residing in state institutions.”

Public pamphlets were issued in the state to increase awareness and support for the program. A pamphlet released in 1950 “extolling the benefit of selective sterilization in North Carolina,” begins by stating, “North Carolina’s Selective Sterilization Law: Protects … its mentally handicapped men and women, the children of future generations and the community at large. It saves … thousands of taxpayer dollars, needless human tragedy, wasted lives.”

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