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

"I am advocating a strategy that could include long-term contraception" - no problem with that Ruth

However, I have a real problem with CRACK/Project Prevention becoming a 'charity' franchise in the UK

Harris and her organization does NOT recognize addiction as a medical problem which responds to appropriate treatment; the 'quick-fix' approach effectively gives up on treatment as a solution to addiction just as long as women with addiction problems stop having children, nothing else seems to matter - even the care and welfare of any existing children!

It is unlikely that many of the women who are CRACK 'targets' in America have access to the kind of health care which provides adequate contraceptive counselling, screening for any contraindications and monitoring of side effects and, as I outlined above, CRACK selectively limits the birth control options it is prepared to pay for denying poor women an option of alternative barrier methods which protect against HIV infection etc.
- caring about the, as yet, unconceived child does not also mean caring nothing about the potential mother.

Some opponents of Project Prevention have argued that the sterilisation-for-cash programme is part of a resurgence of eugenics in the US and regard the financial support of such people as the Texas software entrepreneur Jim Woodhill who paid a consultancy retainer to the disgraced British academic Christopher Brand (the author of a self-published tract called The g Factor, in which he argues that black people are genetically inferior to whites) as evidence

However, the Yale history professor Daniel Kevles points out there is no actual ambition to improve the human gene pool in their programme the issue appearing to be, more precisely, reproductive discrimination against the poor
- what Germaine Greer once described as middle-class resentment at "having to shell out for the maintenance, however paltry and meagre, of the children of others".

This rings too many bells in the current cut backs in the UK!

During the heyday of the eugenics movement there was a long history in the US of seeking to discourage the poor from having children, which often overlapped with race in the southern states.

Andrew Gumbel, a Los Angeles-based journalist and writer and a longtime foreign correspondent for British newspapers reports more recently -
"In South Carolina, for example, pregnant black drug addicts are routinely arrested and prosecuted for child abuse, since the state courts have determined that a foetus has the same legal status as a child.
In a notorious case a couple of years ago, an indigent woman whose child was stillborn was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murder, even though the prosecutor could not prove that the stillbirth had been caused by her cocaine addiction.
In another notorious case, a hospital in Charleston, South Carolina was taken to court for conducting secret urine tests on its pregnant patients and then calling the police if it found evidence of drug use. Women were dragged out of the hospital in chains, some of them just moments after they had given birth. The US Supreme Court eventually deemed the hospital's behaviour to be unconstitutional"

Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the New York based National Advocates for Pregnant Women, is one of Project Prevention's fiercest critics stating that
"Our concern is that this programme will result in an increase in prejudice and misinformation about drug use, addiction and about the women and children affected by it."

As well as the completly refuted myth that drug addicts are giving birth at abnormally high rates promoted by Harris (although instances of multiple pregnancies can clearly be found, the best research suggests that the average drug user has between two and three children) the very emotive portrayal of thousands of children suffering horrific neurological disorders because of the crack addiction of their mothers - another tenet of Harris's campaign - has little or no basis in fact.

"Beginning in the late 1980s, the 'crack mother' scare led to an unprecedented alliance between doctors and prosecutors, where doctors turned in addicted low-income minority pregnant women to the police for arrest, trial, and incarceration. While middle class white women weren't treated in the same manner.
The instant addiction of crack cocaine and its threat to the health of women and infants were exaggerated by the media and used to justify harsher social agendas regarding women and minorities."
Review - Crack Mothers: Pregnancy, Drugs, and the Media

While no one suggests using cocaine in pregnancy is harmless unlike alcohol, which in heavy doses can cause a set of birth defects known as fetal alcohol syndrome, cocaine is not associated with any pattern of defects. Nor does it produce infantile withdrawal, like opiates

Writing in ""The Social Pharmacology of Smokeable Cocaine". specialists John P Morgan and Lynn Zimmer outlined that
"Cocaine does not produce physical dependence, and babies exposed to it prenatally do not exhibit symptoms of drug withdrawal. Other symptoms of drug dependence - such as craving' and compulsion' - cannot be detected in babies. In fact, without knowing that cocaine was used by their mothers, clinicians could not distinguish so-called crack-addicted babies from babies born to comparable mothers who had never used cocaine or crack."

Lynn Paltrow concludes
"On some level, I do believe Barbara Harris is a sincere person who does not set out to be discriminatory.

But the consequence of her programme is to blame the individual and provide further incentive to government to de-fund any kind of public services."

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