Richmond, VA – Today Delegate Robert G. “Bob” Marshall (R-13) and Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-47) joined together and to call on both the General Assembly and Governor McAuliffe to take decisive action for the decades of policy that sterilized thousands of Virginians. Delegate Marshall has introduced HB 74, with Delegate Hope as the Chief Co-Patron, which establishes the Justice for Victims of Sterilization Act to provide compensation to persons involuntarily sterilized between 1924 and 1979 in Virginia. Delegate Marshall stated "Beginning in 1924, Virginia, to its disgrace, provided a model for Nazi eugenics sterilization statute. Now in the 21st century we must seek to redress this as best we can. Many of the victims of this policy of involuntary sterilization are still alive and suffering the effects. Under eminent domain, government is required to compensate citizens for taking away property; how much more should it compensate for taking away the ability to have a family?"
Hope added, "It’s now time to write the final chapter in this shameful and repugnant part of Virginia’s history. What we’re asking for goes well-beyond just simple words of regret. We need to set an example and take full responsibility for our actions so that the healing process can finally begin."
Also in attendance was Mr. Lewis Reynolds who was forcibly sterilized at the age of thirteen. (Note a brief bio for Mr. Lewis is included below.) Mr. Reynolds commented that ““I always wanted children. My wife and I would cry because I could not give her children. I sometimes still will cry when I am alone. I wanted children very much. It is hard for me to think that they thought I was worthless.” He adds, “It would be right if they [Virginia] paid for what they took from me. [Still] I served my country and would have died for my country.”
Mark Bold, the Executive Director at the Christian Law Institute stated, “Virginia, in its official capacity, aggressively sought to eliminate entire classes of our citizens, those the Commonwealth considered "unfit" and "defective," in a cruel, selfish and materialistic effort to create a superior human race. An apology and a pat on the back will not provide the relief that is necessary to the few remaining living survivors. Their injury is ongoing and continues to exist; therefore the debt to these victims still exists in a moral sense.”
Victoria Cobb, the President of the Family Foundation of Virginia said, “Virginia has apologized for eugenics, but that’s little comfort to those few surviving victims who had their ability to have children taken away from them by an atrocious government act. The idea that the government can deem some worthy of life and others not should be revolting to every American. And while this small amount of money cannot begin to undo the wrong, it is one way to hold a government accountable for its actions and, hopefully, to prevent anything like this from happening again.”
Jeff Caruso of the Virginia Catholic Conference noted, “Virginia’s policy of forced sterilization was inhumane and must be repudiated in the strongest terms. While no amount of money will ever repair the harm done or adequately compensate the victims for their loss, the Commonwealth finally should provide some restitution as a matter of justice.”
Jamie Liban, the Executive Director of the ARC of Virginia also spoke.
Victims of the Virginia Sterilization Program can contact: Justice For Sterilization Victims Hotline: 888-643-7497 Website: http://www.sterilizationvictims.org/
Mr. Lewis Reynolds, 86, a Marine Corps veteran of 30 years, fought in two wars (Korean and Vietnam), married for 47 years, forcibly sterilized at 13. Mr. Reynolds first wife left him because he could not give her children. Mr. Reynolds was sterilized at the Central Virginia Training Center (formerly Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and Feeble Minded) because they said he was epileptic; in fact he was recovering from an injury he received when a rock hit him in the head.