Project Prevention: Paying Drug Addicts To Get Sterilized – Right or Wrong?

Project Prevention, a non-profit group which focuses on trying to prevent addicts from bringing children into the world which they either cannot care for and abandon or which are born already bearing their parents addictions, is now offering addicts money to agree to be sterilized.

Project Prevention offer $300 to addicts who agree to sterilization or long term birth control, concentrating primarily on women, but not exclusively, their website states: “Project Prevention seeks to reduce the burden of this social problem on taxpayers, trim down social worker caseloads, and alleviate from our clients the burden of having children that will potentially be taken away.”
In order to qualify for the program, clients can either show that they have been arrested for drug or alcohol use, or provide a doctors letter stating that they are addicted.

Starting out in North Carolina, Project Prevention is branching out – they also work in the UK, however they were met with such strong opposition that they had to lift the ‘sterilization’ part of the project, offering long term birth control only. Harris is currently looking at taking the project to Africa, Haiti and Ireland among other places.

Barbara Harris: “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.”

Unsurprisingly this move has caused a great deal of controversy with many critics arguing that it is entirely unethical to sterilize someone who is not sound of mind, but project founder Barbara Harris has attempted to deflect the criticism. She said, “I think it’s really important for people to understand that the majority of women we sterilize are women who have had multiple children and don’t want anymore. It’s their decision.”

Niamh Eastwood from Release, a drug law UK based organization is one of Project Prevention’s biggest critics. She said that the project removes the reproductive rights of women at a time in their lives when they are unable to make a lucid decision about such a significant issue. In her editorial, she wrote: “Harris’s retort is that, if they are not able to make an informed decision about their health, they are not able to look after a child. However, it is not that simple. As a society, we must protect the fundamental human rights of every person, including their sexual and reproductive rights.”

Other critics argue that simply handing an addict $300 in a lump sum to undergo a procedure like this, is simply giving them the funds to further feed their addiction.

Whilst I can’t see any harm in offering addicts long term birth control, I think sterilization may be a step too far, being that it is such a final procedure. What happens to the people who beat their addictions and then decide that they then want to start a family – it would be too late for them.

What do you think about Project Prevention, do you think they are helping or hindering their clients? Leave a comment and let us know…

More reading materials are available at the National Advocates For Pregnant Women site, the New York Daily News, Africa Is A Country and NZ Drug Foundation as well as the Project Prevention site. (Via FeedBuzz)

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About Sheniz Raif

I am, and think I have always been, a writer. I’ve been scribbling stories since I was old enough to hold a pen and thoroughly enjoy using my words to make people laugh or inspire them. I love going to gigs and am a professional groupie for a couple of awesome bands. I am an avid fan of socializing, football, film, and refusing to grow up! I’m also a proud member of the BODO UK team!