DEBATE - STERILIZATION OF SUBSTANCE ABUSERS
WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 13, 2003, 12:15pm
WHERE: New York City, Columbia University Law School, Jerome Greene
Hall Room 106
WHAT: Debate between Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of NAPW and Jim
Woodhill, Donor and Board member of C.R.A.C.K. (Children Require A
INFO: If you are taking the subway, just take the 1/9 train all the way up
to 116th street, get off and head east through the campus gates all the
way across and out the other gates, cross Amsterdam Ave, and you
will be at the law school
Please join us Thursday, November 13, 2003 at Columbia University Law School for a debate between Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director of NAPW and Jim Woodhill, Donor and Board member of C.R.A.C.K. (Children Require A Caring Kommunity) "Debate: Sterilization of Substance Abusers"
The debate begins at 12:15pm in Jerome Greene Hall Room 106, at Columbia University School of Law. Jerome Greene Hall (the main law school building) is located at the NE corner of Amsterdam Ave. and 116th Street.
C.R.A.C.K. also known as project prevention offers $200 for current and former drug users to get sterilized or to use certain long acting birth control methods. Please attend and let Mr. Woodhill know that CRACK's misinformation and prejudice will not be tolerated.
Excerpts from Paltrow's forthcoming article about C.R.A.C.K.
Much of what CRACK says about their clients is simply untrue or unsupported by the numbers they present. Instead of research, legitimate data, and honest inquiry, CRACK presents selective anecdotes, false information and horrific images of bad women who not only do not deserve to have children, but also do not deserve any form of compassion or support. As Assata Zerai and Rae Banks argue, this kind of "dehumanizing discourse" has a significant influence on public policy responses.
By promoting a vision of pregnant women with health problems as "child abusers," by portraying healthy children as damaged, by disdaining science and evidence based research, and by fostering stereotypes, prejudice, and medical misinformation, CRACK undermines rather than promotes the welfare of children and caring communities, increases the likelihood of government sanctioned punitive responses, and decreases the likelihood that desperately need services will ever be adequately funded.
People who make contributions to the organization are not merely helping to fund outreach to people who could benefit from sterilization and contraceptive services. They are, as the discussion below demonstrates, also supporting a form of political action and propaganda that discourages public support for the very things --contraceptive services, drug treatment, safe communities for children to live in -- that CRACK claims to promote. . . .
Indeed, statements by their founder and Director, Barbara Harris not only provide clear examples of negative stereotyping, they also make clear that control, not empowerment, is in fact CRACK's primary purpose. As one commentary, quoting Ms. Harris observed,
"Addict, recovering addict, dirty, clean . . . whatever. The distinction hardly matters to CRACK (Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity), the group that gave [the client] the money. 'As long as they stay on birth control,' says founder Barbara Harris, 'That's all we care about.'
Similarly, Ms. Harris has stated: "Finally I realized. . . . that if I wanted these women to take birth control, I'd have to do it on my own." Similarly and quite explicitly she has written: "We don't say we're concerned with the welfare of the mothers. Crack's mission is to stop them from having more doomed babies." . . .
The notion of empowerment assumes respect for those who are to be "empowered." But CRACK's chief spokesperson, has, in the past, expressed only disdain for the program's targets. Ms. Harris has repeatedly compared them targets to animals: "I'm not saying these women are dogs, but they're not acting any more responsible than a dog in heat." She has also stated: "We don't allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children." And again, in another context: "They're having litters. They are literally having litters." On the television news program 60 Minutes II, Ms. Harris was asked about these comments and given an opportunity to distance herself from them. She replied: "Well you know my son that goes to Stanford said 'Mom, please don't ever say that again' But its the truth, they don't just have one and two babies they have litters." The Director of CRACK Houston Chapter, Laura Love, analogizes their clients to mules who need "smacks" on the head with a stick to get them to move.
CRACK's founder also regards her clients as "irresponsible." For example, Ms. Harris asserts that, "They're getting pregnant only because they're irresponsible," and claims that "Birth control is available to these women and it's free, but they're not interested in being responsible." Expressing both her desire for control and her contempt for the targets of her program she told People Magazine:
"These women are not getting pregnant because they love children,. . . but because they're totally irresponsible. It's sad that they're on drugs, but the bottom line is, I don't want them to get pregnant."
"The bottom line" Harris has said on the record, " is I don't want them to get pregnant. . .If the state won't do it, I'll do it myself."