RICHMOND (WRIC) – Virginia sterilization victims were at the General Assembly Thursday expecting a debate over how much compensation they'd be given after the state took away their ability to have children.
But that didn't happen.
“You're not worth the time it would take to discuss the issue.” That's the message Virginia's sterilization victims walked out of the General Assembly with Thursday afternoon.
Janet Ingram is normally a stoic woman, but walking out of the general assembly Thursday she was in tears and wanting to give many of Virginia's delegates a peace of her mind
“How would they like a knife in their stomach?” she says. “They don't know how it hurt.”
Janet, her sister Sadie and marine Sgt. Lewis Reynolds have become the face of the 7,000 plus Virginians deemed unfit to breed – involuntarily sterilized by the commonwealth from the 1920's through the 70's.
They sat in the balcony of the House of Delegates and even received a welcoming ovation when introduced by Del. Bob Marshall who's been championing legislation to compensate them.
“I hope members will understand watching us today.”
Earlier in the week, the House appropriations committee released a proposed budget that included money – $25,000 apiece to compensate the living sterilization victims, but that is only half what North Carolina provided to the people it sterilized.
But when Delegate Marshall asked for a vote to increase the funding, he, and the victims got a legislative brush off. Legislators would not even consider voting on the issue
“It's disgraceful to say the least they deserve an up or down vote and I think passing by it was pure cowardice on their part,” says Mark Bold of the Christian Legal Institute.
The elderly sterilization victims left feeling dismissed, unimportant, as if having their right to a family had been ripped away all over again.
“A whole lot away from me… I can't have a family,” Lewis Reynolds says.
“The victims and their advocates asking Gov. McAuliffe to meet with them. He'd have the option of taking additional funds out of the surplus budget to compensate those deemed unfit to breed.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond