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North Carolina grapples with legacy of sterilization programs

Our advance story Sunday set the stage for today's hearing:

Overt rationalization for the programs ranged from protecting the potential offspring of mentally disabled parents to improving the overall health and intellectual competence of the human race. Before the atrocities of World War II, it was seen by many — both blacks and whites — as a legitimate effort to improve society.

"Sterilization was always a cost-cutting measure," said Paul Lombardo, a professor at Georgia State University's College of Law. "The argument was, anybody who generates social costs shouldn't be allowed to have children."