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Eugenics victim says payoff can’t fix what happened

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The General Assembly is poised to vote on the proposed $21 billion state budget. This time around, the plan offers $10 million to compensate victims of the state’s forced sterilization program.

For victims of eugenics, the money has been a long time coming.

Elnora Mills grew up as an only child. She dreamed of one day having kids of her own, but her hopes were shattered.

At age 16, Mills went into surgery for appendicitis when doctors decided to sterilize her.

“It was a hurting feeling,” Mills said. “They just didn’t care at all.”

Robbed of her chance to have children, 46 years later that changing moment in her life still haunts her.

“It was not right,” Mills said. “They used me for a target. They shouldn’t have done that.”

Efforts to compensate victims of the eugenics program have bounced around in the state legislature. Last year, lawmakers decided to not include a payment to victims in the budget. But now, the victims have new hope, as the negotiated budget allocates a $10 million fund to be split among surviving victims. It’s expected to pass in the next day.

Although she’d be happy to finally get some compensation, for Mills, the money isn’t enough to repair the damage.

“They still took my life away from me where I wouldn’t have no children,” she said.

A group set up to help the victims estimated last year that up to 1,800 victims are still alive, though the identities of only 168 have been verified so far with available records.

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