Virginia Eugenics Victims Demand Compensation Before It's Too Late

For 55 years the commonwealth of Virginia took away close to 7,500 people's right to have children.

Under the commonwealth's sterilization law those classified as feeble minded, promiscuous, or even just seen as socially unacceptable were sterilized.

A shameful era in Virginia history that ended less than 40 years ago.

86-year-old Marine veteran Lewis Reynolds has been in the forefront of the fight to hold the government accountable, along with Attorney Mark Bold.

Reynolds was involuntarily sterilized at thirteen because he suffered from epileptic seizures. A procedure he didn't know took place until later when he enlisted. "I think they done me wrong, took my rights away from me, from having a family," Reynolds said.

Sisters Sadie and Janet Ingram are among the fifteen victims in Virginia who have come forward in the last 2 years. They too were unknowingly sterilized as teenagers.

North Carolina agreed last year to compensate each victim of that state's eugenics program $50,000, but a subcommittee rejected a similar bill in Virginia last week.

"We can't delay any longer. Mr. Reynolds is 86, next year he'll be 87. Time is not necessarily on his side so we need to provide compensation now," said Attorney Mark Bold.

Delegate Bob Marshall says he'll bring the bill back up on the house floor on Thursday, along with provisions ensuring $50,000 for each victim, to be paid immediately.

An opportunity for Virginia to right a wrong before it's too late.

"I think we ought to be able to get the same things they did in North Carolina" Reynolds expressed, "I still love my country and I still love people."

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