There is a program called Project Prevention that pays addicts not to have kids. It is a North Carolina based non-profit that developed a new way of dealing with babies born into drug addiction; prevent them all together. Project Prevention offers 300 dollars to drug addicted men and women in the United States to undergo sterilization or long-term birth control. Project Prevention was founded by Barbara Harris, who fostered four babies born into addiction.
Of course a program like this has had quite a wide variety of responses. These responses have shown just how morally complex a program like this is and what its mission is. It brings up the questions: Is it ok to “sell” away your ability to procreate? Also is it ok to buy another person’s ability to have a family?
It’s ripping someone off who has a disease
The founder of Project Prevention says it is ok to buy off another person’s ability to have a family and that it is ok to sell away your ability to procreate. She says this about her program: “They are adults, and then they are entering a voluntary trade that is mutually beneficial. It’s economics at its finest.” What Ms. Harris failed to mention though was that most addicts and alcoholics aren’t exactly in their right minds. If you wave 300 bucks in front of a drug addict or alcoholic for a one time procedure, what do you think would happen? Especially if this drug addict or alcoholic was broke, withdrawing, and desperate? I think the answer is obvious. Addicts and alcoholics have a disease that controls many of their decisions especially when the decision is a choice between being able to get high or not. This is taking advantage of a serious disease and a terrible situation, in my opinion, of course.
Paying for their drugs
What fuels this issue even more is Barbara’s apparent lack of respect for the mother’s (the addict’s) struggle. When she was asked about whether or not she was essentially paying for her client’s drugs she said: “Some people might spend the money on drugs, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re welcome to.” Barbara Harris cares about the babies but this approach isn’t doing much for the mothers and is doing little to really promote her cause. In my opinion it is almost as if she is saying one human life is more important than the other; that addicts can go and literally get high and die for all she cares. And maybe that isn’t what she is saying because she doesn’t understand the severity of the disease of addiction.
Maybe she doesn’t understand that an addict could take that 300 dollars and overdose with it. Either way, not caring what addicts do with their money as you pay them to give up their ability to procreate, in my opinion, is wrong. It is my belief that you don’t harm even one, even if it means saving 100. You don’t say “I don’t care if you take this money and perpetuate your drug addiction as long as it means you don’t have any more kids.” It is not up to me to decide whose life is more important or what matters more or whether or not someone should procreate regardless of the circumstances. That kind of stuff, in my belief, is up to my higher power. All I can try to do is be helpful to all. Unfortunately this program seems to be only helpful to a few at the expense of the others.
But can you blame her for trying?
No one can claim that Project Prevention’s mission isn’t noble though. Barbara Harris, quite apparently cares very much about the children. There are mothers across the country that probably shouldn’t be mothers and if I had to take a wild guess on those mothers, they probably didn’t want to be a mother anyways. And possibly for those mothers it might be a good idea to have a way to not have children, but permanently and for money? Either way I guess in rare instances it could be exactly what is needed. With that said though, Barbara is only offering a quick fix. Something addicts and alcoholics are very familiar with. And as we all know quick fixes for addicts and alcoholics rarely work. As I said before, I believe Barbara’s Project Prevention is born out of the misunderstanding of what addicts and alcoholics actually are dealing with having an addiction or alcoholism. She only has a small scale picture of what is going on and that is focused on the children.
A real solution?
What needs to be found is a solution; a solution for the problem which is the fact that nearly 50% of addicts can’t get treatment. Many individuals, who are addicts right now, if they had the resources to go to treatment, could become amazing parents, home owners, and productive members of society. It would be sad to think that in the face of withdrawal or in being broke that an addict sold away that ability to have a family for 300 bucks (which in more than likely will go to drugs).
Really I believe this whole thing is just perpetuation of “addict” behavior. If it’s not one way to get money it’s another. Myself as an addict, I know. Whether it is stealing, prostitution, and in this case even selling your reproductive rights; the decisions to do these things aren’t with the best thinking mind the world has to offer, but are with diseased mind! A disease mind that needs help and rehabilitated and shouldn’t be making permanent decisions. Offering something like this to someone who isn’t exactly thinking clearly is wrong. And I understand having a child while getting high for an addict or alcoholic isn’t really the best scenario either, and isn’t done usually as a well thought-out decision. But there are steps that can be taken and then at least that addict has the ability to get sober and become a good parent, and maybe even a parent to future children when they can and if they want to. As we all know, were different in recovery. Actually I believe we make some of the best people on the planet once we are in recovery especially when it comes to parenting and spiritual principles.
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