Russia, Britain and other countries use shocking anti-alcohol and drug ads to push prevention, the US does not. Should the US take a lesson from these controversial tactics?
“Sometimes drastic measures are needed. The problem of drugs and alcohol and drug addicts and women giving birth to drug addicted babies is a very serious problem. If it takes something that drastic to make somebody not ever do that, then that’s a good thing,” said Barbara Harris, the founder of Project Prevention.
US based Project Prevention is a nonprofit organization known for its strategy of paying drug addicts and alcoholics to not get pregnant while using. The organization is widely known for their tactics to sterilize addicts by offering permanent birth control options. Harris’ ultimate goal is to reduce the number of substance-exposed births to zero.
Are buying off addicts or forcing a structure of sterilization the best methods to prevent the spread of addiction?
Harris, who adopted four children born to a drug addict, believes paying addicts to not conceive is a solid method to help children from living an abusive life from birth.
“From that came my organization. I decided to start paying irresponsible people to be responsible. We offer cash incentives to alcoholics and drug addicts to use long term or permanent birth control,” she explained.
Harris has been accused of trying to play God and taking advantage of vulnerable people willing to do anything for money.
“The money is necessary because it gets their attention and keeps them focused long enough to follow through and do what they know they need to do anyway,” she said. “If you see the stats that we have, and see how many children are in foster care, how many children have died, how many were aborted, how many were stillborn, and it was all preventable. That’s’ the important thing, it was preventable.
Some accuse the organization of ignoring the possibility of rehabilitation is possible, but the organization believes in rehabilitation Harris said.
“We are saying to these women, you are strung out on drugs, you’re an alcoholic, don’t conceive a child you aren’t able to care for,” she explained. “Wait until you get to a point in your life where you get off drugs and alcohol then conceive a child that you are going to be able to raise.”
The organization received mostly positive feedback for their efforts; people understand it is a positive step. But, she admits there will always be someone who will have a problem with their approach.
“Typically those people aren’t doing anything themselves,” Harris said. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”