A bill filed today would give victims of the state's sterilization program $20,000 each.
The legislation, filed by four House Democrats, would make one-time cash payments to the estimated 2,000 to 2,800 North Carolinians sterilized by a state eugenics program that ran from 1929 through the 1970s.
The total cost could be between $40 and $56 million.
Rep. Larry Womble, a Winston-Salem Democrat and one of the primary sponsors, said that he expects a lot of resistance from legislators worried about the state's potential $2 billion shortfall. But he said compensation is the right thing to do.
"The state committed a wrong against innocent people," he said. "This was worse than Nazi Germany."
A working committee came up with the figure on its own, since it could not find any similar compensation efforts to model. Womble said that he considers it far too low, but it was the best they could do.
"There is no amount of money that can restore their dignity or replace what the state took away from them," he said. "Their bloodline has been cut. They cannot continue their family name because the state did this horrific thing to the insides of their bodies."