May 2, 2012

Barbara Harris: Paying Cash to Crack Addicts for Contraception

From Salon:
Should addicts be sterilized? 
Project Prevention has long paid poor, addicted women not to procreate. Now the far right is helping it go global 
BY JED BICKMAN, THE FIX

“Don’t let a pregnancy ruin your drug habit,” the slogan on the fliers reads. Another says, “She has her daddy’s eyes…and her mommy’s heroin addiction.” Then: “Get birth control, get ca$h.” 
These are posters that show up nationwide in homeless shelters and methadone clinics, in AA and NA meeting rooms and near needle exchange programs, distributed by volunteers for Project Prevention. Formerly called Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity (CRACK), the controversial nonprofit pays drug addicts $300 to either undergo sterilization or use a form of long-term, “no responsibility needed” birth control. 
“What makes a woman’s right to procreate more important than the right of a child to have a normal life?” Project Prevention founder Barbara Harris told Time magazine in 2010.

There's almost nothing in the Salon article, however, about Barbara Harris, whom I interviewed a decade ago for a UPI article, and who turned out to be quite a lady:
Q&A with Barbara Harris:
Paying Cash to Crack Addicts for Contraception 
by Steve Sailer
UPI, May 9, 2002

When you meet Barbara Harris, it's hard to figure out how old she is. Her youthful looks don't seem to match her eventful life story. 
After a couple of decades of being a waitress at International House of Pancakes while raising her three sons, she spent seven years as a stay-at-home mom for her four new adopted children, all siblings whose mother was a drug addict. Then, in 1997, she founded one of America's most innovative and controversial charities, C.R.A.C.K. (Children Requiring A Caring Kommunity), which pays addicts $200 to use long-term contraception or get sterilized. 
According to her Web site CashForBirthControl.com, 584 women (and eight men) have taken Harris up on her offer. Her clients have 1,102 of their children in the foster-care system. Another 231 of their babies have been stillborn or died shortly afterward. The women had also had 993 abortions. 
Long-term birth control was the choice of 57 percent of the women, while the others picked tubal ligation. About half her clients have been white and another one third were black. 
Harris is a large, cheerful woman of impressive energy. Her long, dark blonde hair and almost line-free face suggest she's in her 30s. But then she tells you that she has three grandchildren by her oldest son, who is 30. And her second son, a senior at Stanford, just got married. It turns out she is 48. Perhaps her secret is that she doesn't spend a lot of time fretting over her worries. Instead, she responds with direct, vigorous action. 
Harris, who is often denounced as a "racist," is a white woman who lives with her African-American husband Smitty, a surgical technician, in a non-descript but pleasant section of Orange County, Calif., called Stanton. Mixed-race families are not a particularly big deal in this suburb near where Tiger Woods grew up. 
I met with Harris at C.R.A.C.K.'s three-room suite in a low concrete office building in nearby Garden Grove. While most articles about Harris have concentrated on the ideological arguments that have pitted her organization against representatives of the ACLU and the NAACP, I was more interested in what motivated her.

You can read my interview with her here.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

The 200 dollars is the shocker. I'd pay a whole class of people a stipend of 20K a year for sterilization. That's an investment that would give near-infinite gains, long term.

joseph blowman said...

The photo of her at The Guardian (they also did an article on her) shows she's definitely aged in the last ten years.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jun/12/barbara-harris-sterilise-drug-addicts-alcoholics

Anonymous said...

The Mast brothers consider themselves trailblazing do-gooders because they don't put preservatives in their $9 chocolate and because they transport their cocoa beans to Brooklyn on a sailing ship. Now compare that to this woman's work. How much human suffering and misery has she painlessly prevented?

[enter username here] said...

"some have even called Project Prevention a revival of the eugenics movement" <-- love that part. It's a content-free nonargument but allows its exponents to appear as if they're actually saying something substantive.

It seems that Harris's charity is leveraging the bureaucrat-social worker complex in order to compete with it, except of course there's a bit of a difference in their respective overhead costs.

Anonymous said...

I would be willing to pay drug addicts, long-term welfare recipients, and the chronically homeless a lot more than $200 to undergo permanent sterilization. I also believe that convicted rapists and murderers should be forcibly sterilized in prison. I like Anonymous #1's "20k a year stipend for sterilization" idea. It will be expensive at first, but give it a generation or two and a significant portion of the criminal and severely mentally ill element in the population will be weeded out.

It would be great if someone started a eugenics based charity that covers all this. I would be more than happy to donate. Although the state can't do proactive things like this any more, it doesn't mean private citizens can't.

[enter username here] said...

I think it's funny that the critics (read: AIDS foundations, NGOs, Oyster Bay types) are slamming it on grounds of "efficacy"--her organization doesn't pay for the latest and greatest retroviral treatments, it doesn't make everyone more handsome, it does hardly anything for solar energy standards or climate change or peace in the Middle East, blah blah--because the ingenious part is that even if this Dr-Laura-on-a-shoestring group is .01% effective the ROI in non-ethical reality-grounded terms looks mighty not-so-bad.

Anonymous said...

"some have even called Project Prevention a revival of the eugenics movement" <-- love that part. It's a content-free nonargument but allows its exponents to appear as if they're actually saying something substantive."

Some members of the religious right regularly attack Planned Parenthood as a "eugenics" organization. And they may even be right. I am a big fan of Planned Parenthood; it would be great if the liberals who support it admit they are practicing a very watered-down version of eugenics, and not worshipping Hitler at the same time.

Eugenics is a good idea that was embraced by both right and left before World War II, and practiced in over 2 dozen countries. It wasn't perfect, but it was and is a very proactive way to reduce human misery, poverty and criminality. Unfortunately, too many people associate it with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, even though violent antisemitism long predates eugenics. If anything, mass murdering Jews was against the principles of eugenics, considering their higher IQ and better fitness.

Anonymous said...

Her statements only invite charges that her entire campaign is racist, targeting as it does crack-cocaine users. In defense, Harris, who is white, likes to cite the fact that her husband is black and, even more counterintuitively, that they adopted and raised four black children from a crack-addicted Los Angeles mother.
Dunno how Bickman views it but it's amusing after gleaning the reactionary comments at the link. To get down to brass tacks:
a) the reflexive critics instinctively decry mention of her black husband/kids as a red herring, non sequitur, etc.
b) same are itching to accuse her of being a racial eugenicist raaaaaaacist
c) mentions of her black husband/kids are sort of a pretty solid and on-point refutation of at least the racial eugenicist charge (unless you're pursuing a theory of crypto-racist para-conspiracies and epicycles)
d) sit back as ThinkProgress/MediaMatters bloggerati bang their spoons on the table shouting THAT'S NOT FAIR

Maya said...

"The 200 dollars is the shocker. I'd pay a whole class of people a stipend of 20K a year for sterilization. That's an investment that would give near-infinite gains, long term."

I like the way you think. But, remember, these people aren't future oriented at all. I bet hundreds of thousands would agree to be sterilized for one payment of 10,000. I bet that for a 20 grand, the number of takers would be well over a million.

pat said...

I have been expecting Eugenics to make a comeback at least among academics if not politicians. The best books on this topic are probably the two by Lynn. However they cost something like $150 each. I'm not quite that interested.

The problem of course is that this is a classic slippery slope issue. Someone will quickly extrapolate from drug eugenics to race eugenics and everyone will recoil in horror. I don't think America is anywhere near being ready to consider "final solutions".

BTW do the Mast brothers have to wear beard nets like the hair nets that female food workers wear?

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Sterilize anyone who requests welfare payment for kids she cannot raise.

Maybe there is a way to temporarily sterilize women on welfare. If they ask for welfare for themselves and their kids, temporarily sterilize them, but once they go off welfare and take care of themselves or are married to some guy who will take care of them, de-sterilize them .

Jehu said...

Anyone care to take a gander at how much Harris has saved the US taxpayer?
Non-coercive eugenics that is not funded by the taxpayer's dime. What's not to like?
If we accept that contraception is ok, and that the more long term forms (tubal ligation and the like, which are frequently reversible through surgery) are ok, then how can it not be ok for a charity to offer it for free?

To oppose this on a principled basis you pretty well need to be anti-contraception, which is a position I have some sympathy for but it is an extremely minority position even among Catholics.

Laura said...

I'm sorry, but this is not right. Surgical sterilization (i.e. hacking up a healthy organ for life style, not medical, reasons) is already on ethical thin ice when it's done to benefit the patient's life style. To do a sterilization to benefit the life style of some third party not the patient is just totally ethically indefensible.

And if the idea is "we're tough. post-Christian people, what do we care about morality and ethics?" then why do you care if some addict unethically has 14 kids? Barbara Harris says she wanted a little girl to play live dress up doll with, and Barbara Harris got a little girl to play live dress up doll with. The addict gets to keep her human dignity (or what's left after what she's done to it herself), and the little girl gets to be alive. Win-win-win, at no cost to the tax payer. If Harris doesn't want to take all the extra siblings she doesn't have to, there are plenty of people in this country who would love to adopt a baby. Is she seriously saying "I felt sort of bad about splitting up half siblings who never met each other. Don't make me choose between feeling sort of bad and having no control over my family size: let's smash the Hippocratic Oath to smithereens instead"?

And if she's worried about innocent babies suffering from being born addicted, yes that's ugly. (Although I do recall Slate is always running articles debunking these crack baby stories, e.g. how much of the baby's distress was withdrawl and how much was just colic?) But again, if we don't care about ethics, why do we care about the temporary suffering of some random baby we've never met? "I feel sort of baby about a baby suffering, so let's replace the Hippocratic Oath with 'If your patient is a crack whore, go ahead and carve her up'". Seriously, do you want Dr. What's Morality, If The Check Clears I'll Do It counseling you on your surgical options right after he's done a couple of these ladies?

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

Laura,

Name me one zip code where the poverty and illegitimacy rates are above 50% and where you would choose to raise a family if you had the means to live elsewhere.

Gentrification plans don't count.

[enter username here] said...

Uh, yeah, "ethics" is a real nice term of art. When the FDA fines Pfizer or whomever for advertising something off-label I get such an electric thrill of ethicality. Preventing DDT spraying in sub-Saharan Africa was also deliciously ethical.

Anonymous said...

Maya: I bet that for a 20 grand, the number of takers would be well over a million

So, $20B for a potentially game-changing improvement in our society AND human suffering? We spent as much on air conditioning in Iraq - is this really too much to ask? In a sane world, this expenditure should be taxpayers' most important goal.

Chris said...

Harris is a large, cheerful woman of impressive energy. Her long, dark blonde hair and almost line-free face suggest she's in her 30s... Perhaps her secret is that she doesn't spend a lot of time fretting over her worries.

No, it's because she's large. In your 20s and 30s, obesity makes you look older. Then, in your 40s, 50s, and early 60s, obesity makes you look younger. Then you die.

TangoMan said...

on ethical thin ice when it's done to benefit the patient's life style.

Who says so and why do they say this?

To do a sterilization to benefit the life style of some third party not the patient is just totally ethically indefensible.

You've really got to work to be able to distort reality to this degree. The life style benefit flows to the sterilized woman, not to the PP people or their donors. The woman is offered an incentive and she values the incentive more than she values the usefulness of her reproductive organs.

there are plenty of people in this country who would love to adopt a baby.

I know doctrinaire liberals, you know really sanctimonious prigs on topics like race, who go to China to adopt a baby all the while black babies in America are going unadopted and we actually see couples from Europe and Canada coming here to adopt those babies. The very people who should be opening their families to a black child are flying half-way around the world to adopt. Talk is cheap. Even with the exportation of these babies, there are still plenty of them who are unwanted by adoptive parents. So you pushing an argument based on wishful thinking simply isn't a useful tactic.

NOTA said...

Laura:

Why are you assuming that the choices are either to abandon all ethics, or accept your particular oddball belief about voluntary sterilization surgery being ethically on thin ice?

My guess is that people with serious drug problems make really bad mothers. In fact, it would be remarkable if this were not true. (Similarly, people engaged in a life of crime, people living on the streets, and people with serious mental problems are probably mostly not very good parents. People with incurable diseases they can't afford to treat are, similarly, not too likely to do a good job of raising their kids, since they will likely die when their kids are young. And so on.)

Responsible people in a situation where having children would be a bad idea, or where having kids right then would be unfair to the kids, take steps to avoid having kids--like usng birth control pills, or condoms, or getting tubal libagations or vasectomies. That is kindness, not amoral indifference. If you come to realize at some point that you would be a really lousy parent, getting a vasectomy looks to me like responsible and thoughtful behavior. Saying "fuck it, who cares" and making babies you aren't equipped to support or help raise is the opposite of ethical behavior.

NOTA said...

Reliably reversible sterilization surgery (something where the reversal was a cheap outpatient thing that basically always worked) would be a truly wonderful invention. I hope someone, somewhere is funding people working on it. Just turn that fertility off till you're old and responsible enogh to have kids.

Maya said...

Laura,

I fully support paying these women to get sterilized, not because I am tough and post-Christian (whatever that means), but because that is the moral, ethical thing to do.

The Hippocratic Oath is a promise to do no harm. Some people don't want to have children, so they consider sterilization to be helpful, not harmful. These women would get something they want- money, in return for losing ability to have more of what they don't want. The doctors would be helping, not harming them. Or are you suggesting that any medical procedure done for any reason other than physical health is inherently harmful? Would you say the same about breast reconstruction performed on 22 year old who had a mastectomy due to cancer?

Yes, my main concern are those children who have the double misfortune of being born to drug addicts and addicted to drugs. Perhaps, some symptoms get wrongly assigned, but, in general, withdrawal is brutal. Some crack babies aren't born permanently damaged, but others aren't so lucky. If I introduced you to some of my students who were born with damage to their digestive systems, hears, and diminished brain function due to their mother's drug use, would you tell the, "Tough shit. Preventing suffering such as yours isn't worth sterilizing willing women"?

And what do you mean by "little girl gets to be alive"? We are not discussing abortion here. That little girl would be a missed conception opportunity. Condoms and birth control pills produce missed conception opportunities as well, usually, to the great benefit of many people. Do you want to ban contraception? Wanna rescue sperm from used condoms?

As i said, many drug-children don't escape developmental damage. Also, many don't find loving families because their druggie mothers use on and off and often get to keep those kids for awhile. By the time they do get to foster homes, no one wants them. Oh, and our foster homes are overflowing. Even if crack whores quit having kids, there will still be enough girls for dress up, shopping and hair brushing out there. It's ladies like Barbara Harris that are in short supply. And, in case you forgot, foster homes aren't free. Most foster parents don't adopt their foster kids.

So, yes, I care about preventing the suffering of innocent children rather than preserving fertility in women who practice criminal neglect and depraved indifference.

Rose said...

Laura,
I agree 100%.

Mrs. Harris's efforts are a drop in the bucket, but the message sent out is powerful.

The morality and beliefs society would need to adopt in order to find this just are inhuman and anti-Christian. Patriarchy, especially with a belief in brotherly love, not technocratic fixes, is the only thing that can improve us.

Eugenics is probably not the most evil thing in the world, but it's still quite evil and would make things worse. Legalized abortion was supposed to make the gene pool better, but my lying eyes see otherwise.
One has to be pretty nihilistic and godless to view these things as good, and a society made up of such people do not have the fortitude, energy, or desire to raise children.

BTW, this is so cynical that we know that the money will go to drugs, but who cares?

Orthodox said...

All the lefties criticizing this will one day send lots of money to fund similar organizations (or their children will). The ironic thing is that Harris isn't racist, she's genuinely concerned about the babies created by drug users, but when the left comes around to supporting her methods, they will be as racist as they were at the turn of the previous century.

beowulf said...

"Maybe there is a way to temporarily sterilize women on welfare."

As a condition of welfare? No, not even a conservative judge would allow that. Barbara Harris has the right idea, it doesn't take many $100 bills to get the target customer to sign (Norplant lasts, what, 5 years? So give them some cash In 5 yrs to reup).
Hell, make it a business opportunity. Give preachers, social workers or anyone else really, a $1000 for each recruit they sign up. How they split the cash (or not) is up to them. The Norplant factory will need a second shift to keep up.

Anonymous said...

There are 7 billion people on this planet, on the way to 10 billion in 40 years. Anything that stops babies from parents who don't have the IQ to support themselves in this f***ing "global economy" is GOOD for all in the long run. There were 3.7 billion in 1970 and all the new growth since is in the 3rd world and mostly in groups that teachers in CA generously call "low skilled", all because of imposing on them western (white) agriculture, medicine, sanitation and distribution logistics. We, the west, the 'evil' white people (quotations for those who lack the ironic gene), through our altruism (and greed) have created a "park" where once there was a "world". We must now manage the people in the park the way we manage animals in a park. God is dead, he died when technology allowed us to save people who before would have died - if you are going to 'save' then you are going to have to kill to balance the slate. Failure to realize this is suicide for all or at least suicide for western civilization which cannot survive the onslaught of the 3rd world's billions when our drive to improve (or exploit) the lives of our 'lesser brothers' comes up against the reality of finite resources. Ultimately the most humane solution is to prevent pregnancy in the first place

beowulf said...

Obamacare forgot something...

"Despite its discontinuation in the USA and the West, Norplant is still used in the developing world... Norplant and other implantable contraceptives are especially effective in the developing world, as they do not require daily administration or access to a hospital to be effective. In addition, no continual contraceptive supplies (pills, condoms, etc.) are necessary, and it is a highly effective, low cost contraceptive over the long term."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norplant

Anonyia said...

"The morality and beliefs society would need to adopt in order to find this just are inhuman and anti-Christian. Patriarchy, especially with a belief in brotherly love, not technocratic fixes, is the only thing that can improve us.

Eugenics is probably not the most evil thing in the world, but it's still quite evil and would make things worse. Legalized abortion was supposed to make the gene pool better, but my lying eyes see otherwise.
One has to be pretty nihilistic and godless to view these things as good, and a society made up of such people do not have the fortitude, energy, or desire to raise children. "

And here we have illustrated for us how some interpretations of Christianity eventually lead to post-modernism and liberalism.

All the while you fret about the moral implications of mild eugenics, exponential 3rd world population growth continues, and threatens to swamp the industrialized world -forever changing the character of the civilizations which brought us industry in the first place. Oh, plus all the nasty environmental effects and water wars to take into consideration as well. Give it 150 years, probably less.

Anonyia said...

"Failure to realize this is suicide for all or at least suicide for western civilization which cannot survive the onslaught of the 3rd world's billions when our drive to improve (or exploit) the lives of our 'lesser brothers' comes up against the reality of finite resources. Ultimately the most humane solution is to prevent pregnancy in the first place."

It's suicide for us all. I love our world, but I see evidence of its decay everywhere I look. Lack of ambition towards NASA (thus implying that extending our civilization beyond earth is no longer all that important), lack of patience to wait for long term solutions to economic problems (ie the EU wanting to import immigrants in to offset the dependency ratio instead of allowing the population to self correct itself). Our planet will probably be a semi-civilized wasteland within a few hundred years. Because nobody really cares about the legacy they will leave for their descendants. It's all here and now, or alternatively wringing one's hands about not wanting to be "mean"....The true nihilists are all the people who are afraid of eugenics.

socks said...

"Legalized abortion was supposed to make the gene pool better, but my lying eyes see otherwise.
One has to be pretty nihilistic and godless to view these things as good, and a society made up of such people do not have the fortitude, energy, or desire to raise children." (Rose)

Do you see the exponential growth in world population? Where do you think it ends? When our farmland is out of fossil water or fossil fuel or mined fertilizer components, and production drops 85% (literally, estimates I've seen say we have 6x over production due to these unsustainable inputs), then what happens.

The world has too many people period. I think it's better to prevent someone from having children (especially in a voluntary context), than to kill them as young adults in wars/famine/ect...

I would argue that abortion has improved the world relative to where we would be otherwise. It's just hard to see amidst the backdrop of skyrocketing population. I looked at the numbers a while back and seem to remember abortion saving us one population doubling in 100 years at present rates.

John

Svigor said...

The 200 dollars is the shocker. I'd pay a whole class of people a stipend of 20K a year for sterilization. That's an investment that would give near-infinite gains, long term.

A stipend would be a waste. In fact, it would be counter-productive. Take everything you're willing to pay, and pay it up front. That way you're selecting for present-orientation and low impulse control.

I would be willing to pay drug addicts, long-term welfare recipients, and the chronically homeless a lot more than $200 to undergo permanent sterilization.

Why bother with the qualifications?

I like the way you think. But, remember, these people aren't future oriented at all. I bet hundreds of thousands would agree to be sterilized for one payment of 10,000. I bet that for a 20 grand, the number of takers would be well over a million.

Indeed. Stipends are the wrong way to go.

It's also a good idea to keep all the personal data of the recipients private. No need to go announcing the racial breakdowns, or any other.

The problem of course is that this is a classic slippery slope issue. Someone will quickly extrapolate from drug eugenics to race eugenics and everyone will recoil in horror. I don't think America is anywhere near being ready to consider "final solutions".

I think it's a mistake to qualify the recipients for addiction or other pathology. Just offer them as big a one-time payment as you can afford, and advertise.

I'm sorry, but this is not right. Surgical sterilization (i.e. hacking up a healthy organ for life style, not medical, reasons) is already on ethical thin ice when it's done to benefit the patient's life style.

Breast implants fall into this category. So, millions of Americans strongly disagree with you.

To do a sterilization to benefit the life style of some third party not the patient is just totally ethically indefensible.

The third party's benefit is immaterial, as long as the recipient benefits. And society isn't really a "third party" in the sense you're suggesting (though I suppose the husbands and boyfriends of women with breast implants could be considered such a nefarious, benefiting 3rd party)

The morality and beliefs society would need to adopt in order to find this just are inhuman and anti-Christian. Patriarchy, especially with a belief in brotherly love, not technocratic fixes, is the only thing that can improve us.

I think you have to make a case, if you want to convince anyone. And you haven't.

And I don't see how Patriarchy would be exclusive here.

Legalized abortion was supposed to make the gene pool better, but my lying eyes see otherwise.

Do you have any numbers? AFAIK, the numbers contradict you.

This program would actually be an unambiguous good in Africa. Currently, 1st world nations are setting Africa up for a massive die-off by building their population far beyond sustainable levels. When, not if, the aid spigot turns off, starvation will kill millions of them. Getting their population down to sustainable levels before that happens would be a good deed, not a sin.

Anonymous said...

"Legalized abortion was supposed to make the gene pool better, but my lying eyes see otherwise."

But maybe legalized abortion accounts for the decline in crime rates! Just a thought. What else accounts for the great mystery?

I used to think it was the decline in lead due to stopping using lead in gasoline. But the continuing decline has reduced me to wondering if maybe it's lead in the mother's system.

Now here's another possibility.

Robert Hume

Lucille said...


Maybe there is a way to temporarily sterilize women on welfare.


It's called an IUD.

Dahinda said...

Mencken wrote about this 90 years ago: http://mencken.info/2010/08/utopia-by-sterilization/

Dahinda said...

In my last post I should have said that Mencken wrote about this 75 years ago.

Anonymous said...

She needs a silver-tongued spokesperson while she shuts up and does her job. A lot of people agree with her and would help her succeed but she is politically dangerous to work with because she is a motor mouth.

Anonymous said...

Eugenics was practised in Norway until the 70s.

Georgia Resident said...

Sterilizing crack addicts seems almost like a no-brainer, given the effects of crack on the fetus. That this would even be controversial is bizarre.

Anonymous said...

It’s Only “Good Science” if the Message is Politically Correct

Anonymous said...

"I bet that for a 20 grand, the number of takers would be well over a million."

Heck, I might to it for 20 grand for the rest of my life. Sounds sweet.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but this is not right. Surgical sterilization (i.e. hacking up a healthy organ for life style, not medical, reasons) is already on ethical thin ice when it's done to benefit the patient's life style. To do a sterilization to benefit the life style of some third party not the patient is just totally ethically indefensible.

And if the idea is "we're tough. post-Christian people, what do we care about morality and ethics?" then why do you care if some addict unethically has 14 kids? Barbara Harris says she wanted a little girl to play live dress up doll with, and Barbara Harris got a little girl to play live dress up doll with. The addict gets to keep her human dignity (or what's left after what she's done to it herself), and the little girl gets to be alive. Win-win-win, at no cost to the tax payer. If Harris doesn't want to take all the extra siblings she doesn't have to, there are plenty of people in this country who would love to adopt a baby. Is she seriously saying "I felt sort of bad about splitting up half siblings who never met each other. Don't make me choose between feeling sort of bad and having no control over my family size: let's smash the Hippocratic Oath to smithereens instead"?

And if she's worried about innocent babies suffering from being born addicted, yes that's ugly. (Although I do recall Slate is always running articles debunking these crack baby stories, e.g. how much of the baby's distress was withdrawl and how much was just colic?) But again, if we don't care about ethics, why do we care about the temporary suffering of some random baby we've never met? "I feel sort of baby about a baby suffering, so let's replace the Hippocratic Oath with 'If your patient is a crack whore, go ahead and carve her up'". Seriously, do you want Dr. What's Morality, If The Check Clears I'll Do It counseling you on your surgical options right after he's done a couple of these ladies?


Talk about "intelectual dishonesty", (roll eyes)

Philosopher said...

Norplant was withdrawn from US in 2002 but still is in use in developing world.

DKT International founded by Adam and Eve sex toy founder Phil Harvey distributes free birth control in developing world. Google them. IIRC, around 15 years ago, 60 Minutes profiled them and highlighted a non-surgical procedure similar to tubal ligation. It's not available in US.

Philosopher said...

I like Anonymous #1's idea.

Wonder if Gates Foundation would fund it?


Related: Pay poor illegal immigrants receiving any type of public assistance to be sterilized, have their anchor babies renounce citizenship, and then leave permanently.

NOTA said...

So if we combine the up-front cash stipend for sterilization surgery with very generous childcare and mommy & baby medical care for qualifying students at colleges, do you think anyone will notice the pattern? (And will that change if we automatically adjust the graduate students' stipends upward for each child by the student or wife of the student? How about if we waive some student loan debt for hard pressed recent graduates with children?).

None of this is likely to have a huge effect--it's spitting into the ocean compared to other demographic forces at work in our society. But maybe it helps around the edges, both in terms of making the next generation a little smarter and healthier, and decreasing the total amount of human misery somewhat.

None of this requires coercion or taxation, just private decisionmakers.

NOTA said...

I know a woman who works in child support enforcement. She and her coworkers have a running joke about colocating with a vasectomy clinic, and sending the guys who are on the hook for kids with a couple different baby mommas down the hall for a free snip. (It wouldn't be entirely crazy to offer a stipend for this situation, either.)

Anonymous said...

"A stipend would be a waste. In fact, it would be counter-productive. Take everything you're willing to pay, and pay it up front. That way you're selecting for present-orientation and low impulse control."

For up-front you'd have to have an age-limit. Otherwise almost everyone, even the long-time oriented, will get sterilized at age 48. The cost would be enormous and do no good.

Or maybe not. After all, it would be only about the same as one-year's Social Security. And why shouldn't good folk get some direct benefit from the taxes they pay?

Robert Hume

[enter username here] said...

It is not an invalid point to say that KRACK/Project Prevention can't reasonably be scaled out--it depends on a disastrous welfare apparatus to supply it with the problem to remedy. But it's different from paying carjackers not to steal cars because it compels the third party, not as a matter of this mother's liberties but rather everyone else's right not to have to take on the son or daughter of an unwed drug abuser as a ward of the state. Where's your delicate "ethical" sensibility about THAT, a.k.a. the Byzantine, corrosive, rotted-out system of deviancy-defining we have now. As Chesterton said "When a man thinks any stick will do he at once picks up a boomerang"

[enter username here] said...

The comparisons to Planned Parenthood are also a bit strained. Here the prime eugenicists are the self-selected clients of Harris, not the other way around. But perhaps being morally culpable by proxy for this form of kickstarter eugenics is preferable to being culpable for increased numbers born out of wedlock to unaccountable irresponsible women (which is the moral posture reserved by her opponents)

Svigor said...

For up-front you'd have to have an age-limit. Otherwise almost everyone, even the long-time oriented, will get sterilized at age 48. The cost would be enormous and do no good.

True. Just figure the payment on a declining scale. Calculate what it would be worth as a stipend and add it all up, basically.

Anonymous said...

Chairman Mao held that drug users and dealers were BOTH social parasites and eliminated them both. Maybe he was right?

Paul Mendez said...

Now I know what I'll do when I win Megamillions!

Paul Mendez said...

Chairman Mao held that drug users and dealers were BOTH social parasites and eliminated them both. Maybe he was right?

Pet dogs, too.

Laura said...

Sorry to take so long to check back in, some stuff came up.

If anyone still cares:

"If I introduced you to some of my students who were born with damage to their digestive systems, hears, and diminished brain function due to their mother's drug use, would you tell the, "Tough shit. Preventing suffering such as yours isn't worth sterilizing willing women"?"

I would certainly be completely bummed out if I met these students. But avoiding bummed-out-ness is not a moral imperative, and it doesn't give me the right to do whatever it takes to make the feeling go away.

The Hippocratic Oath says you work for your patient and nobody else, and you do what's best for your patient. These women may be willing to get the surgery, but if they're not willing to do it for free that's a good sign they don't believe it per se is in their best interest. And you can't say it's objectively in the patient's medical interest, because what you're fundamentally doing is taking an organ that used to work and make it not work. Now it is in the interest of me and you and Barbara Harris and anyone else who has to be bummed out by the spectacle of how these women live their lives, and in some cases it may be in the interest of the tax payer. And yes, if we all get together and give her cash she may be willing to do the surgery. But "willing" is not remotely the same thing as "in the best interest of".

Basically what I'm saying is: Look at Harris's tone in the interview, and look at the tone of these comments. If as a doctor you're letting someone who views your patient like a stray cat call the shots in her treatment, it's a pretty good sign you're doing something wrong.

Barbara Harris said...

This is Barbara Harris, just for the record the comment comparing addicts to dogs was not made by me. It was a comment that was made about one of the women we paid who was having her 6th baby by her sister. I repeated it in my 60 Minute's interview telling them what the sister said, but of course with editing being what it is I got the credit for the statement!

Barbara Harris said...

This is Barbara Harris. I'd like to let everyone know that the comment made comparing addicts to dogs was NOT my comment. It was made by the sister of an addict we paid directed at her sister who was having baby #6 that the family would be taking in. I repeated the comment on a 60 Minute interview telling of the frustration that people feel and of course with editing being what it is the comment became mine. To all of you who are against what Project Prevention does and believe these women should just continue giving birth I hope you've had a home study done so you can adopt and raise the children that will be born.