Aggregated News

Elaine Riddick has told the story of her childhood dozens of times before, but that didn't stop her voice from shaking and her shoulders from trembling when she told it again to a group of state legislators yesterday.

Riddick was born to an abusive father and a mother who ultimately was sent to prison. She was raped at 13 and left pregnant by her attacker. And when she delivered the baby, the state took away her ability to deliver any more.

A five-person board ordered her to be sterilized in 1968 as part of a state eugenics program designed to stop certain groups of people from having children. She was 14 years old.

As a result, Riddick said yesterday, she spent the past 40 years fighting depression, struggling to maintain romantic relationships and questioning what exactly it means to be a woman.

"I felt like I was a 'he,'" she said from behind a podium in a soft but matter-of-fact voice. "Because I was barren."

She was not the only one. Between 1929 and 1978, more than 7,600 people were...