A controversial group called Project Prevention in Knoxville, Tennessee is paying drug addicts and alcoholics not to get pregnant. The group is traveling across the United States this summer in an RV, offering addicts $300 to be sterilized, or $300 per year each year they go on long-term birth control. [WATE.com]
This tactic is problematic for lots of reasons, mainly because it smells all-too-much like the anti-choice chapters in U.S. history when women who were deemed “undesirable” to populate, like Puerto Ricans or Native Americans, were forcibly sterilized by the government.
How disconcerting, then, to read that Project Prevention offers the birth control cash “incentives” to both men and women, but 3,000 women and only 27 men have used it, according to WATE.com in Knoxville. Perhaps the women are considered more “responsible” for preventing pregnancies? Focusing solely on the babies who might be born to drug addicts while ignoring the adults is similar to the worst kind of anti-choice rhetoric: nevermind the living, breathing person with an life-threatening illness—what about the innocent unborn? Cue Project Prevention’s founder, Barbara Harris, who told WATE.com, “People say that to me all the time: ‘What if [the addicts] use the [$300] for drugs?’ Well, that’s their choice.”
The intention comes from a good place, I’m sure, but this isn’t the wisest way to go about it. All that money could be spent much more wisely provided medical services and counseling for addicts and their illness. Medical treatment, more so than birth control, is what they really need.