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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Ruth Archer BS: A snip at 200? (sterilizing addicts) (66* d) RE: BS: A snip at 200? (sterilizing addicts) 19 Oct 10

Does she, eenjay? What makes you think that? Go onto the project's website and have a look. Maybe I am being naive, but I assumed she would be a fascist cow whan I first noticed an article about her in the Guardian Weekend section a few months ago; that article, and some of the testimonies form participants in the programme that are on the website, made me think rather differently. She's not perfect by any means, but she's also not a demon, and while it would clearly be preferable if adequate programmes existed within the state system to ensure better care of children born into addiction, until the system is doing its job properly I rather admire her for getting up off her arse and trying to do something about it. As I say, I would be much happier if we were only talking about long-term contraception, rather than permanent sterilisation. But I don't really have an ideological problem with incentivising people to take part, if it works.

At the end of the day, it isn't just the duty of care towards the addict that is at issue here - though this is clearly important - but the duty of care to babies and children, and trying to avoid situations where they are being born into chaos, neglect and abuse. Children of addicts either grow up in these circumstances in their parents' homes, or they often experience them when taken into the care system.

Yes, I know that children don't have to be born to an addict to experience neglect and abuse. Yes, I know that the methodology here is skewed so that it targets the most needy and vulnerable, and that it smacks of playing God with people's fertility. But if it also means fewer children being born into intolerable situations and basically having their lives written off before they are even born, then maybe it's an idea that is not without its merits, and could be explored further in a more controlled way.

The statistics on Project Prevention's website state that the almost 3500 participants in the programme so far had given birth to almost 10,500 children between them, before joining the programme (add another 5000-odd terminations and 700-odd stillbirths). Around 6500 of those kids, born to addicts, are now in care.

Of the 3500 who joined the programme, around 2150 chose reversible methods of long-term contraception, ie implants, injections or IUD. So this isn't really enforced sterilisation for the poorest and most vulnerable; perhaps it's part of a short-term solution during a period in their lives where they haven't got a lot of control and are making some pretty bad decisions. It prevents those decisions having negative impact on any more babies. It also maybe breaks a cycle of poverty and addiction that sometimes begins before people are even born and means their life chances are blighted from the start. Just look at statistics for kids brought up in care, and how many of them end up in prison and as addicts themselves. It's heartbreaking.

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