Monday, December 18, 2006

Paying Addicts Not to Have Children: Project Prevention

A very interesting article in the New Haven Register describes the situation which promoted a Connecticut mother to start a Project Prevention (formerly known as Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity or C.R.A.C.K.) ) chapter in her community:

Sara Lincoln suffers when she hears her adopted child cry. The baby was born addicted to crack cocaine because the child's birth mother used the drug while pregnant. Now Lincoln plans to adopt another child soon to be born to the same woman. The child will also be a crack baby. While Lincoln and her husband work to terminate the birth mother's parental rights, the children caught in the middle suffer the symptoms of being born addicted to drugs. Lincoln decided that the best thing to do is start a Connecticut chapter of Project Prevention, a controversial group that pays drug addicts up to $300 to use longterm birth control or get sterilized. Project Prevention has touched off an ethical firestorm everywhere it's gone, and Connecticut should prove no different.

The claim is that Project Prevention is unethical because it too close to eugenics, that it coerces addicts into giving up their reproductive choices because of an undue financial incentive, that it is paternalistic. But I'm having a hard time buying into these arguments, especially since there doesn't seem to be qualitative or quantative data that the addicts who sign up for this program (Barbara Harris said Project Prevention has served nearly 2,000 "clients." ) have regretted their actions. Does these women feel coerced? Or do they feel a sense of relief? And what of the ethics of public health, that we all pay when our children suffer?


Anonymous said...

This is not eugenics and it is compassionate for all concerned. Yes, we all pay when our children suffer. This program should be supported. Thanks for bring blogging about it.

M. said...

I'm not sure if any research has been done on this specific project, but Dorothy Roberts' Shattered Bonds examines how foster-to-adoption fast track programs have negatively impacted minority families.