In today’s birth control news, one controversial group is paying women who are drug addicts to get sterilized–just like dogs that need to get spayed and neutered, they say. Because, you know, women are like dogs, and women on drugs have no future.
The nonprofit, right-wing group, Project Prevention, is going so far as to target women in homeless shelters and methadone clinics, in AA and NA meeting rooms and near needle exchange programs. They are spreading their message that women can earn $200-$300 (to further feed their drug habit, presumably) if they undergo sterilization or use a form of long-term, “no responsibility needed” birth control.
They are even hanging posters that say:
Don’t let a pregnancy ruin your drug habit.
She has her daddy’s eyes…and her mommy’s heroin addiction.
Get birth control, get ca$h.
Project Prevention’s founder Barbara Harris says her mission in life is to zero out the number of births to parents who abuse illegal drugs, particularly crack cocaine:
What makes a woman’s right to procreate more important than the right of a child to have a normal life? Even if these babies are fortunate enough not to have mental or physical disabilities, they’re placed in the foster-care system and moved from home to home.
Which does ring true. Babies who are the unfortunate victims of their mother’s cocaine habit often face a long and difficult childhood. It’s just cruel to subject a baby to drugs during pregnancy and to then bring them into a world of health problems, instability, more drugs and poverty if they do stay with their mother. And if they go into the foster care system, well, that’s often an undesirable road too.
So, yes, Harris has a point here. And yes, women who are on drugs should not be getting pregnant. But then she begins to lose me when she compares getting sterilized to having AIDS:
I became more angry at the system that allows [these drug-addicted women] to drop babies off yearly at the hospital with no consequences. If there’s a scale, and it’s between her never having any more babies and her having five more babies who may be damaged, then what’s more important? For me it’s the children. And if she can’t have any more children, then that’s just the consequence of her actions, like getting AIDS or something.
And then I’m really lost when she compares drug-addicted women to dogs that haven’t been spayed:
We don’t allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children.
The problem with this philosophy is that this assumes these women have no future, no hope, no chance of recovery and certainly no opportunity to ever become a good parent. So let’s just spay all of them and who cares about rehabilitation.
Other critics say this approach takes advantage of vulnerable women and deprives women of their God-given reproductive choice. The Fix wrote:
Paying poor women who are addicted to drugs to undergo sterilization obviously leads to a thicket of troubling moral issues, even if it falls short of outright eugenics. In addition to the racism accusations, there is criticism that Project Prevention betrays an abuse of women’s right to informed consent. If a person who is addicted to crack cocaine and has few material resources is in no position to assume responsibility for a baby, are they truly capable of making long-term or permanent decisions about their reproductive health?
To date, Project Prevention has paid a total of 4,077 people (including 65 men), to get a tubal ligation or an IUD, implanon (a hormonal contraceptive that is implanted in a woman’s arm), Depro-Provera (an injection that lasts three months).
What do you think about this approach? Leave a comment below!