Ore. Gov. Apologizes for Sterilizations
By BRAD CAIN,
Associated Press Writer
SALEM, Ore. (AP) -
Gov. John Kitzhaber formally apologized Monday for
Oregon's past eugenics law that led to the forced sterilization of
hundreds of people.
Girls in reform school, people in mental institutions
and poor women selected by welfare workers were among the more than
2,500 Oregonians subjected to sterilizations under a law that stood from
1917 to 1983.
"To those who suffered, I say the people of Oregon are
sorry," Kitzhaber said during a ceremony in the governor's office. "Our
hearts are heavy for the pain you endured."
He is the second governor to atone for state eugenics
laws after Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who also erected a memorial in May
to the first woman sterilized under the policy.
Among the dozens of people who crowded into Kitzhaber's
office for Monday's ceremony was Velma Haynes, 68, who was sterilized at
age 15 while living at the Fairview Training Center, a state-run
institution for the mentally ill and retarded.
Haynes called the state's acknowledgment of wrongdoing
"long overdue," but praised Kitzhaber's effort to make things right.
"I want to thank you for taking the time to apologize,"
Haynes told the governor. "Your apology is appreciated and accepted."
Not everyone was satisfied. Ken Newman, 61, who said he
was given a vasectomy without his consent when he was a teen living at
Fairview, said the governor's remarks don't erase what happened.
"I want more than an apology. I want to be compensated,"
Newman said. The law was based on the pseudoscientific movement that
sought to prevent people considered "unfit" or "defective" from having
children. After 1967, the Oregon law was chiefly used to sterilize those
with mental illness or mental disability.