A charity based in North Carolina is taking a rather unusual approach to helping drug addicts, as shared in a feature on Time. Project Prevention is not your usual drug rehab program: its work with drug addicts involves compensating them should they decide to go on long-term birth control – or undergo sterilization altogether.
Project Prevention founder Barbara Harris explains that the charity aims to prevent drug addicts from having children that they are not capable of caring for, as well as to reduce the number of babies who are born addicted to drugs. The article quotes Harris: “Even if their babies are fortunate enough not to have mental or physical disabilities, they’re placed in the foster care system and moved from home to home… What makes a woman’s right to procreate more important than the right of a child to have a normal life?”
Harris knows all too well about this issue, as she has in her care four children whom she adopted from a mother addicted to crack.
The charity gives addicts it works with $300 for choosing to undergo sterilization or long-term birth control. Critics have pointed out that addicts are incapable of making decisions regarding reproduction, especially when they are being offered money.
Harris remains committed to her advocacy despite the criticism, though she has admitted that some addicts use the $300 they received from the charity to buy more drugs. She says, however: “They’re going to do drugs with or without the money. But maybe our money means they won’t rob someone tomorrow…”