Aggregated News

Elaine Riddick was a 14-year-old rape victim when she was forcibly sterilized at a hospital. (D.L. Anderson)

It has been 40 years since Elaine Riddick heard the words, but she still remembers them like yesterday: "The doctor told me I had been butchered."

In 1968, at just 14 years old, Elaine became one of the thousands of victims of North Carolina's forced sterilization program. Quietly and efficiently operating from 1929 until 1974, the program's purpose was to weed out the "unfit" of society by stopping them from reproducing.

Elaine is sitting in a quiet apartment high above the noise of Atlanta traffic. A well-dressed, poised and dignified African-American woman in her mid-50s, it is difficult to imagine her as the young girl that she describes.

As a teenager in tiny Winfall, N.C., Elaine had already known poverty and violence. She had witnessed her father cutting her mother's throat from ear to ear in an alcohol-induced rage. She remembers frequently missing school. When she did show up, she was dirty and unkempt. She sometimes stole food from other children's lunches because she was always hungry. At just 13 years old, she was raped and impregnated by a neighbor's...