Skip to comments.Addicts cash in on birth control program - They're paid to be sterilized or use long-term medication
Posted on 07/29/2002 6:39:35 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP
Addicts cash in on birth control program
They are paid to be sterilized or use long-term medication
PHOENIX - Sabrina Yanez, a teenage mother and former methamphetamine user, got paid $200 for being fitted with an IUD at a Yuma, Ariz., clinic.
The check came from Barbara Harris, founder of CRACK, or Children Requiring A Caring Kommunity, a nonprofit group that gives cash to addicts who agree to be sterilized or use long-term birth control.
Ms. Harris, who has adopted four children born to a Los Angeles crack addict, doesn't want more babies born to addicts.
Now in its fourth year, CRACK has paid 686 addicts, including 15 men, in 22 cities nationwide. That includes seven women and one man in Arizona.
The program is controversial. Those who work with addicts say these men and women are desperate and incapable of making an important decision. They say the money feeds drug habits.
"They may use the money for drugs, but that's their choice," said Ms. Harris, who lives in California. "The babies don't have that choice."
Ms. Yanez, 18, who says she is clean, is a high school student again. She spent the $200 on things for her 1-year-old son, Joseph: summer clothes, shoes and a float for the pool. She's sure she doesn't want more babies right now.
About 80 percent of the 33,000 neglect and abuse cases investigated annually by Arizona Child Protective Services involve drugs, said Flora Sotomayor, program administrator.
Children of addicts are often neglected. Some are abused by parents, some by the company their parents keep. Women often turn to prostitution to pay for their habits.
Dr. Eugenie Anderson delivered the baby of a cocaine addict in Phoenix. There was a blood clot in the baby's leg. The leg, white and cold, had to be amputated.
Sometimes the babies die. And sometimes, Dr. Anderson said, that's for the best.
Dr. Anderson read about CRACK in a newsmagazine and offered to help. The article was critical of Ms. Harris for targeting minorities.
Dr. Anderson is black.
"Drugs and poverty target certain minority groups, so that's where you find the problem," she said.
The other side
But some worry that drug-dependent men and women are in no shape to consent to sterilization, especially when enticed by cash.
That $200 may influence them to make choices they might not otherwise make, says Becka Perry, program manager at Amity Inc., a Tucson rehabilitation center where mothers can live with their children while they get off drugs.
There are other ways, such as education and treatment, to prevent women from having drug-addicted babies, she said.
Ms. Harris and her husband became foster parents for the first time in 1989 to a baby girl born to a Los Angeles woman addicted to crack cocaine. She was the woman's fifth child.
Every year for the next three years, the Harrises got a call from social workers asking them to take the woman's sixth, seventh and eighth child.
One boy suffered the worst of his mother's addiction, sleeping only a few minutes at a time and waking screaming.
In 1997, a tired Ms. Harris plastered the impoverished MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles with fliers offering money to addicts who would voluntarily be sterilized or use long-term contraception.
CRACK started with $400 from an attorney who handled child abuse cases. In 2001, the group collected almost $300,000, mostly from conservative donors.
Ms. Harris has stacks of letters on her desk from grateful women, many of whom sell sex for money to buy drugs.
"You have to understand that these women don't want to have babies taken away from them every year," Ms. Harris said.
One day recently, applications came in from Detroit, Minnesota, Florida and from Ms. Yanez, the 18-year-old from Yuma.
"I love it when we get them young. When we get them at 40, the damage has already been done," Ms. Harris said.
One woman had had 14 children by the time she was sterilized. Younger women often choose birth control that is not permanent, Ms. Harris said.
Because the addicts often are poor, programs such as Medicaid pay for most procedures. To be paid, they must have a doctor certify that the services were done.
Ms. Harris said the people making this decision need to be thoughtful. To get their tubes tied, for example, women must visit a doctor, fill out paperwork and wait 30 days for surgery.
"If they were zombies, they couldn't do that," Ms. Harris said. "These women are making responsible decisions, whatever their motivation."
Dr. Anderson said she would not perform a procedure on someone who was impaired. Women who show up stoned or drunk are turned down.
Ms. Yanez was 16 when she got pregnant. She used methamphetamine, just for fun.
"It was never like I needed it," she said. "I could go without it."
Ms. Yanez hasn't touched it since she found out she was pregnant. She moved to Yuma from California to start a new life with her little boy, just the two of them.
"Honestly, since the pregnancy with my son, I quit," Ms. Yanez said. "It had everything to do with it. Just the idea of him being on his way into this world, it changed everything."
She saw a flier for Ms. Harris' CRACK program in her doctor's office. She was fitted with an IUD on April 1 and received a check for $200 two weeks later, just in time for her son's first birthday.
Distributed by Associated Press
I really have no problem with someone donating money to get these people to use birth control, but I found it amusing that, as Medicaid participants, these people "could have" done this on their own, but waited to be paid..........
One can only hope. Not big on government social programs, but I'd be happy to my tax dollars spent on something like this. Little investment now could prevent *huge* costs in the future.
When I look at images of prison populations I see abortions that should have happened 18-20+ years ago.
If that is the case, they are also incapable of raising children.
So the addicts make one good decision. Where's the controversy?
Anyone want to bet these same complainers would have no problem if CRACK was offering money to have an abortion?
It's also the same argument we used for our own domestic eugenics program, and it was a good one.
I don't want the government to force people to sterilize themselves. I have no problem if the gov., using my tax dollars, wants to bribe them to do so.
You might have a point, if anyone were being euthanized, or even being forcibly sterilized. But since they're not...
Those who work with addicts want to ensure a next generation of addicts to justify the social workers continued employment. Follow the money. Finding homes for crack babies is also probably in their job description
Social workers have a vested interest in the problem getting bigger, not smaller
I'd also like to see this program offered to welfare mothers. $1000 to get sterilized, but ONLY if you do it before your second baby. I'd contribute to it.
Horrific. Both for the kid and for those who have to deal with that for the next 20 years. Odd how by that time he'll probably be one of those "super" criminals the Professor who came up with the "broken windows" theory writes about.
Oh.....WHERE'S THE DAD?????
Shouldn't be too hard to find homes. Start with a list of the people who object to the program.
In any case, it's not the clinics who are paying the addicts to be sterilized. It's a private organization. The addicts are not being forced into sterilization ($200 isn't even near "an offer you can't refuse") and I am not being forced to to subsidize the "reward" money. What's not to tolerate?
(Before you say "Medicaid", let me say that my tax dollars would also pay for the addicts' childbirths should they not opt for sterilization.)