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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
Caring Kommunity)
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."

From http://www.drugpolicy.org

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
lengjade
Nov. 12th, 2003 08:54 am (UTC)
the big picture
lol@well, you know my son that goes to stanford says that...

however, i do have a serious comment: if these women are on welfare, they're getting paid more money for each child they have. i seriously doubt that drug addicts are responsible parents: why should they be fiscally rewarded--with *my* money, as i'm a taxpayer--for having children when the only reason they're having them is they're not responsible enough not to have them? i've heard that women addicts have sex with drug dealers for drugs: should a child be produced every time a woman needs a fix? that's hardly a good reason to have children.

also, is it fair to these children to be born either strung out or with a VD, like AIDS, inherited from one or both parents? if healthy, responsible parents abort fetuses that have Tay-Sachs or Downs, why shouldn't free birth control be made available to people who'll have children addicted to crack and such? drug addicts are incredible selfish people--even if the child isn't born strung out or diseased, what kind of happy life is it going to have with an addict parent?

i'm saying that this program, aside from the ::seriously retarded:: words of Harris and Love, has merit. the world is already overpopulated. children should be brought into the world by a caring, reponsible parent, not by accident or mistake, especially if that child isn't going to be well-treated after his/her birth.
delascabezas
Nov. 12th, 2003 10:01 am (UTC)
taxpayer dollars
i think free birth control, and, more importantly EDUCATION about reproductive rights and options should be available to everyone - furthermore, i do not think offering a cash incentive for sterilization is a particularly "compassionate" view to the problem. I have yet to have anyone come up with a compelling or "good reason" to have children at all! All things being equal, i think that a reduction in our planetwide population would lead to a reduction in the social problems we seem to be so good in creating. It would either lead to that, or an eradication of our species, in which case the problems go with it. the difference is, i think this reduction should take effect at all levels of society though, not just through plans where a rich woman is trying to target a particular demographic's reproductive rates.

do i think people play the system to get more welfare? sure. do i think everyone on welfare is one of those poeple? nope. there is a difference between much needed reform and slapping a bandaid on an artery - the concept here is that if they stop having kids, then welfare won't be so strapped for cash, or burdened in the future when these kids grow up and need to go back out on welfare. treating women like cows is not the answer - how about spending some of the billions we waste on warmongering phalluses, and getting these people some real help, rather than offering them handouts for tubeties?

there are plenty of people who are told that thier kids have a genetic disease that could be fatal that go ahead anyway with the birth- furthermore, they have great families and lives. however, these people are generally in socio-economic circumstances where they can afford advanced healthcare for children with specal needs, instead of hoochin it to a sugar daddy to keep the kids in clothes, or, as you pointed out, thier next fix.

VD is an unfortunate thing that affects everyone across all cross-sections of society - if your "caring, responsible parent" has Herpes or HIV from a blood transfusion or mistake earlier in life, should they be sterilized on diagnosis? i mean, eventually, your tax dollars (in the form of medicare or medicaid) may end up having to pay for thier medical care, or at least supporting it - really, it is the most humane way to save money long-term.

The idea that everyone is entitled to a happy life, and all steps possible must be taken to eliminate a possibility where this is not the case SIGNIFIGANTLY disturbs me. Everyone gets the same chance</> at a happy life - it is what you do with that chance that counts. Sure, there are elements that create a handicap on the statistics - but no case is ever a closed door, until someone decides to tie off some purse strings.

Adversity and misery has led to some of the greatest innovation and beauty our race has seen. It is the grashopperish "world owes me a (happy, secure, safe,educated,job-granted,well-paid,retirement-garunteed) livin" ideal, imo, which further frays the threads of potential our species could be using to weave some actual progress back into the gene pool.

also - not to take this ad-hominem, but more out of curiosity, how much tax do you pay? i was under the impression that your existance has been that of a professional student. clearly, regardless of taxpayer status, one is entitled to an opinion - but, again, the problem with a beurocratic syste - i have no idea id what i pay is providing senate lunches, or paying for welfare diapers. i work a wage and pay lots of taxes, and am outraged by this, not because i disavow that the system is flawed, but because nothing is done to fix the flaws, so dipshits like Harris and Love can actually get programs like this off the ground!
(Anonymous)
Nov. 12th, 2003 06:20 pm (UTC)
Re: taxpayer dollars
This is the first chance I’ve had all day to sit down and read all this, so it’s a little late and I’m tired, but since I’m most likely the only one of any of you who is a parent, I’ll put in my two cents.

The idea of forced sterilization or birth control for ANYONE is just about one of the most frightening things I can think of. We have already become in many ways a more and more homogeneous population which I feel is not such a good thing. Besides which, I have a somewhat personal reason for my feelings about all of this. If poor people were not allowed to have children or were limited to one or two children, I would not exist since my dad was the twelfth child of poor parents. His parents and all the kids, even those who were handicapped, worked very hard (welfare didn’t exist back then) and all managed to live rather productive worthwhile lives.

I agree with Bernie about this entitlement to happiness that people seem to feel these days. One way or another we all make our own happiness or unhappiness through our own thoughts and actions. We have too much time on our hands these days, and we’ve turned into an extremely materialistic society from what I’ve seen – rich and poor alike. I have a strange feeling that many people no longer know how to be happy or sad for that matter; they only know how to want. That is a very sad thought.

By the way, I have been working and paying big-time taxes for many years, and I would gladly pay more to make available to everyone and anyone free and voluntary birth control as well as education. I have my doubts about how much effect this would have, but anything more controlling than that would be loathsome.
grimbil
Nov. 12th, 2003 12:48 pm (UTC)
Re: the big picture
why shouldn't free birth control be made available to people who'll have children addicted to crack and such?
I don't have time to enter into the debate, just thought I'd note that "the crack baby" is a myth propogated by the Reagan administration to push its anti-drug policy.
idchild
Nov. 12th, 2003 10:01 am (UTC)
a conniving connundrum
you know, i don't know whether to cringe or cheer.

on the one hand, the whole concept absolutely reeks of the spectre of Big Borther determining who breeds, and by virtue of that, the ugly issue of Eugenics is brought up, either intentionally or un. Although she does not specifically state that it has anything to do with the breeding stock, I would not be shocked if that was also a motivating factor for her.

I mean, along the same vein, why not just euthanize the children, or better still, just have a govenrment limit of welfare awarded for multiple children. One, and thats it. Hey! Why not go the route of Red China. Lets just have it be one kid, then abort everything else! that'll be fun.

Then again, on the other hand, there is a certain twisted logic. If you are not responsible enough to handle your own damned body, why shoud we have to pay for it? It is precisely this insidious logic that allows flaming psychos to actually get airtime and money and become pundits, as opposed to being put down like the rabid dangers that they actually are.
idchild
Nov. 12th, 2003 10:05 am (UTC)
Re: a conniving connundrum
I have to reply to my own comment.

Argh! What the hell is wrong with people?!? What happened, where and when that even allowed people to grow so greedy and hateful of thier fellow man? I sometimes wonder what we could have become if the fucking priests and merchants had not gotten ahold of us.
delascabezas
Nov. 12th, 2003 10:22 am (UTC)
fuck the priests and merchants
i say go back in time and kill all the early farmers, or at least thier crops - thats what got us out of synch with nature, and brought us lovely things like technology, beurocracy, science, warm water, sewage, advanced chemistry and pharmacology, and a meaningless vapid post-industrial life =)
idchild
Nov. 12th, 2003 10:33 am (UTC)
Re: fuck the priests and merchants
you know, that's a fairly valid argument. Had we not become so damned sedentary, we never would have started stockpiling, and hoarding and everything else. I suppose we are, in a sense paying for our own laziness.
delascabezas
Nov. 12th, 2003 10:48 am (UTC)
see
this poses some very important anthropological questions... it is something i ponder almost daily.

If there is a limit to the amount of inovation a certain hunter-gatherer can come up with in a lifetime while facing the adversity of their lifestyle, then, clearly, N's total value across the population increases as the popuilation grows.

Therefore, one woud think this contribution would grow as society settled down and stopped having to fight so hard - to a certain extent it has - but at what cost? The lack of day-to-day diversity has left a vast majority of the population without basic survial skills, or working knowledge of how to get by if the whole wagon were to tip over.

The average 7 year ould pygmy or Khosian is self sufficent in thier native environment - I imagine that maybe 1 in 1000 of every nyc 7 year old would survive if the system broke down, and i think i am being generoud.

sure, science has given us great things, but many of those great things have come about as answers to the big problems our society has created... in short, is progress progress?

Personally, I say nope. For our species, and our planet, progress has led to self-destructive regression.
idchild
Nov. 12th, 2003 11:06 am (UTC)
I couldn't agree more.
That is why it is so sad. Our progress has rendered us helpless. I forgot who it is who said this, but the gist was that civilization is one major blackout away from total choas.

It doesn't get any simpler than that. Once we lost electricity and communication broke down, it would take, in my estinmation about 3 days for new york to decay into a total mad max nightmare. Once people realize there are more of then than police, and noone will stop them doing from what they want, all hell would break loose.

Plus, the realization that there are no immediate consequences for their actions, and the fact that their is no way to pin any one thing on any one person should 'order' be restored, coupled with the breakdown of any sense of community that we have already have, and it would all be over.

kinda funny.

but, paranoid rant aside, it is funny that we are not advanced at all, but a regressed society of whiny children, who want our way, now, and to have all the toys to boot. And no one wants to share.
twirlygurl
Nov. 12th, 2003 02:29 pm (UTC)
Re: fuck the priests and merchants
do i sense a daniel quinn fan?
delascabezas
Nov. 12th, 2003 08:04 pm (UTC)
quinn is aight
but it doesn't address the larger issues - i'd give it all up tomorrow if i thought it would make a difference - the point is, in order for the difference to be made, there needs to be a ginormous catastrophe - one which would put our species largely at risk
delascabezas
Nov. 12th, 2003 10:42 am (UTC)
ha
my first thought when I read this:Harry Laughlin and the Model Eugenical Sterilization Law. Followed shortly thereafter by the upholding decisions by that fuck Wendell Holmes.

This was, of course followed by my cynical inner monolouge wondering when the Bush administration would foster the reprint of "The Bell Curve".
idchild
Nov. 12th, 2003 10:58 am (UTC)
Re: ha
Of course they would. Despite their residence on the far end. The wrong far end.
sleeping_hitman
Nov. 12th, 2003 12:59 pm (UTC)
I would like to say a few things to Ms Harris. And shake a fist under her little nose.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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delascabezas
The Son of the last of a long line of thinkers.
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