"The past is another country, they do things differently there."
The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley.
Between 1929 and 1974, nearly 7,600 people were sterilized under orders from North Carolina's Eugenics Board. Nearly 85% were women or girls, some as young as 10. The state estimates that 1,500 to 2,000 of the victims are still alive.
The board's declared goal was to purify the state's population by weeding out the mentally ill, diseased, feebleminded and others deemed undesirable.
In 1950, the middle of the period, there was a population of ~500,000, say 250,000 females, of whom, ~60,000 were aged between 15 and 30. The dates are 35 years apart, so 0.3% of the population were so treated annually.
Back in the late 60s, I was a Mental Health social worker. From time to time, the parents of severely subnormal girls (as the children were classed then) would ask if it were possible to sterilise them, as neither they nor the girls could cope with menstruation. Further, on a technicality, as the child would never be able to give informed consent, any intercourse would be rape, and for the same reasons, marriage was not a possibility.
Up to the early 60s, and before I joined, a number of women in the district were locked up in institutions as "moral cretins". These were for the most part women of less than IQ 60 who had an obsession but no understanding of sex.
Before WW2, the boundary was less clear and any girl who behaved in a "lewd and immoral" manner was also locked up. A father could, on application and approval have his daughter locked up, or a court could decide that was the proper thing.
In both cases, sterilisation was an option, either to allow the person to cope or to prevent pregnancy as inmates were male and female at the same institutions.
I note also from the report, "At 18, she married a man she met there. When he discovered she had been sterilized, Riddick says, he abused her, calling her barren and useless. They later divorced."
You might consider that Ms Riddick was not particularly good at choosing partners. The details in the report are very sparse and we do not know what she was like between say 15 and 21.
In my occupation, I met 3 or 4 women who were completely incapable of dealing with children and demonstrated this by producing them at regular intervals and, after the first one or two had been taken into protective care, they were offered sterilisation. If they did not accept, they were watched until they inevitably became pregnant and the child was removed to prevent suffering, malnutrition and diseases of poverty and neglect.
You may think that it wrong to investigate thoroughly those who would adopt a child but allow anyone to have a child naturally, and there may be something in this and anyone who has a reasonable chance of supporting a child should be able to adopt without further ado.
North Carolina made the mistake of coming to the problem by way of eugenics. This is rather a blunt instrument.
It is not a simple question and there are limited resources, children still die of neglect, torture, malnutrition at the hands of their parents.