Court rejects pay for woman sterilized at county's behest

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North Carolina doesn't have to compensate a woman involuntarily sterilized at the behest of a county social services worker because there's no evidence that the State Eugenics board was involved, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld a state commission's determination that the woman was ineligible for payment under a state law to compensate people involuntarily sterilized as part of a state program that ran through the 1970s.

Court documents say the woman was coerced into having an abortion and a sterilization procedure in 1974 by a worker from the Cleveland County Department of Social Services who threatened to take her two daughters.

The woman's attorney argues that the county agency was functioning as an arm of the state's social services system, and that the county worker was acting under authority of state law regarding sterilizations.

Attorney Bobby Bollinger Jr. wrote in his appeal that the worker "was an agent of the State" and that his client's claim shouldn't be denied just because there is a no documentation proving involvement of the Eugenics Board.

However, the Appeals Court ruled that the lack of documentation means the woman can't prove that she meets requirements for compensation. A 2013 state law requires claimants to show they were sterilized under state authority.

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