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California Set To Pay Reparations To Those Who Were Forcibly Sterilized

California State Capitol building in Sacramento.
The State Capitol.
Wikimedia Commons )
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California is set to start paying reparations of up to $25,000 for people who were forcibly sterilized as part of a decades-long state effort to curb the population of people it deemed "mentally defective" or "sexually deviant."

The state's program — part of the eugenics movement and the largest in the country — ran from 1909 to 1979 and left 20,000 people unable to have children. It disproportionately affected disabled people and people of color.

The budget awaiting Gov. Gavin Newsom's figure includes $7.5 million for the program, which would also cover women who as recently as 2013 were coerced into sterilizations in state prisons.

There are an estimated 383 living survivors of the forced sterilization program, and an estimated 244 survivors of the prison sterilization effort, said Laura Jimenez, executive director of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, which has advocated for reparations.

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"It's important that the state recognize and is held accountable for what they did — beyond the apology that was issued just to the survivors of the 1909 to 1979 law," she said.

California's law inspired similar practices in Nazi Germany, according to Paul Lombardo, a law professor at Georgia State University and an expert on the eugenics movement.