Schenck went to Shelby Hospital for a D&C, a procedure women often have after a miscarriage to clear out the uterus.
As the doctor walked past Schenck she heard him say to a nurse, “Cut her.”
A scared teenager, Schenck did not know what significance those two words would later play in her life. When leaving the hospital, Schenck looked to the doctor who told her she wouldn’t be having any children. Unbeknownst to her, Schenk had a hysterectomy.
Schenck was one of thousands of North Carolinians who were sterilized without their permission while the practice was legal for nearly 50 years.
From 1929 to 1974, North Carolina allowed forced sterilization.
When Schenck heard that legislators were checking into the victims of forced sterilization, her ears perked up.
Gov. Bev Perdue formed a task force.
That task force held a hearing and compiled a list of statistics and suggestions to compensate those forcibly sterilized.
Schenck went to the hearing in Raleigh. Now in her 80s, she caught a ride with a friend.
The N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, as a Division of the Department of Administration, has compiled a list of everyone sterilized through the state program.
In the report submitted to the governor, living victims would be given $50,000 in compensation. But that recommendation does not include people like Schenck.
In an effort to prove her case, Schenck contacted Shelby Hospital where her procedure was conducted more than 50 years ago. Schenck was told there are no records on file that predate 1980.
Fullercooper said that’s an unfortunate stumbling block many sterilization survivors are tripping on.
Prior to the past 20 years, laws regulating and protecting medical documents were not as firm as they are now, she said.
HIPPA wasn’t put into place until 15 years ago, she added.
Perdue has put on the record that she plans to include a compensation plan for sterilization survivors in the upcoming state budget, despite the economic strain already weighting down resources.
Schenck was disappointed when she got the letter telling her she would not be compensated by the state. She needs hospital records to prove the procedure took place.
She said that the matter isn’t all about money, but for her efforts and suffering, she would like to be acknowledged and compensated.
“The best thing is gone,” she said, “that I couldn’t have children. They don’t realize what that did to a person. That took a lot away that I could never get back.”
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