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Eugenics tree

There is no way to truly compensate tens of thousands of men and women who were declared "defective" and involuntarily sterilized under cruel programs operated by Virginia, North Carolina and dozens of other states.

But lawmakers, even after all these years, should still try to make amends.

In Richmond, the General Assembly is considering a measure that would offer $50,000 to people once deemed by the state to be unfit to have children. Between 1924 and 1979, more than 7,000 men and women were sterilized after being classified "insane, idiotic, imbecilic, feeble-minded or epileptic."

Among the victims was Lewis Reynolds, who was sterilized at age 13 because he was wrongly believed to have epilepsy. He ended up serving his country in two wars and retiring from the Marine Corps after 30 years.

As The Pilot's Bill Sizemore recounted in a story this week, Reynolds, now 85, didn't find out what had happened to him until after he had gotten married. He said his wife left him because they were unable to have a family.

Reynolds' second marriage lasted 47 years,...