Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

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Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby greengiant » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:07 am UTC

Just read about a charity that offers money (£200) to drug addicts if they agree to be sterilised. Apparently it was started in America by a lady who adopted the kids of a crack addict, but has now moved to the UK.

It's pretty easy to follow the reasoning behind this charity; drugs and pregnancy don't mix well, let's try and stop drug addicts having children. Is this just a sensible way to prevent unnecessary problems or is it one step away from eugenics? Any opinions from people with first hand experience in this area? Also, is it, as the article hints at, more acceptable in America than the UK?

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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Josephine » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:35 am UTC

I don't think voluntary eugenics is a bad thing, really. I think it's fine, personally.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:50 am UTC

See on the one hand, I think these addicts are making a voluntary decision to go through with the operation and we shouldn't stop them if they really want to remove themselves from the gene pool. On the other hand, is a drug-addled crack-head really in the best state of mind to be making decisions like that?

Also, I don't think eugenics is the goal here. It's a measure for tackling the horrible illnesses that babies born of druggie parents often have, thus reducing the burden on hospitals. Even if it was eugenics, it wouldn't be very good at weeding out any particularly undesirable traits, because drug use is an environmental thing and has precisely squat to do with genetics.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby General_Norris » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:56 am UTC

If they are so unresponsable and in such a bad state that they can't buy a condom or just don't have sex while drugged I don't think they are responsable enough so as to choose this.

There's no need for sterilization.

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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:57 am UTC

I think people should be able to do what ever they want to their body, including this.

Other than that, what SlyReaper said. Drug use is almost certainly not caused by genes.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Josephine » Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:58 am UTC

Hmm, yeah, that eugenics thing wasn't as applicable to the article as to the OP's mention of it. I'm not so sure about drug abuse being entirely environmental, though.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Killamus » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:07 am UTC

There is *Some* evidence that points to genetics as a contributing factor. None of it is really proven yet, but it hasn't been disproven. It's this reason that I avoid alcohol myself - My family has a history of addiction to alcohol.

That being said, I can't really say whether or not I agree with this. While removing addicts from the gene pool, and stopping "Crack babies" (Words from my 12th grade health professor) is a good thing, I can't honestly say that addicts are in a good state of mind when offered money. If you would rather go without food then without drugs (As some addicts regularly do), what wouldn't you do for a high (Or money). It seems like this person is doing the wrong thing for all the right reasons.

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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby M.C. » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:56 am UTC

If I give money to a drug addict, it is not unreasonable to expect that that money will be used to purchase drugs. People who are addicted can get very desperate when needing a hit but not having the cash. Voluntary sterilization is not a small decision; it is a massively influential decision that will have a profound impact on a persons life. The long term negatives of sterilization will, however, be ignored by those who need the fulfill the short term goal of getting high.

Sterilized young runaways, having lost a chance at a family and a normal life, will have even less reason to clean themselves up, even less to aspire to.

This charity is blackmailing desperate addicts into getting mutilated, and this is is hardly 'voluntary'. While it is a terrible situation when addicts of any flavour - be it drugs, alcohol, gambling or other - have children that they cannot support, sterilizing them just destroys any chance they had at a future - even if that future seemed miles away.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:59 am UTC

It absolutely is voluntary unless you have some obscure definition of that word.

Though I would be happier if drug adducts were offered more good decisions rather than offered more poor ones.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Dream » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:06 am UTC

She is a eugenecist, plain and simple. She preys on vulnerable people who in her mind are not worthy of the same human rights as she enjoys.
Her next project, she says, will be in Haiti. "We're going to offer depo [contraceptive] injections every three months to women in exchange for food cards. The women in Haiti are having children they can't even feed, so why are they getting pregnant? Just think about how much suffering that's going to prevent."

My jaw drops. "Step out of your job here," she implores me. "Give me one logical reason why somebody should conceive a child they can't feed!"

Then she begins talking about women in Africa who have Aids, "My thinking is, why are they having these babies? I'm sorry – tell me that you don't agree! If you know you have Aids, why are you getting pregnant and having babies that you know are going to have Aids? Babies are suffering. It's preventable."

She tells me about one occasion when she "went after" a Detroit woman she'd read about in the paper. Her 13th baby had just been taken off life support and she was refusing sterilisation because she wanted more children. "I said, no, she's not going to have any more kids, not if I've got anything to do with it. I called Detroit and asked my volunteers to find her. They offered her $500 to get tubal ligation. The day she had it, I celebrated."

How can she celebrate tracking someone down and forcing sterilisation on her? "I'm proud of it," she beams. "That woman has no right to have her 14th baby. I guarantee that anybody who cares about kids would do the same thing."


I couldn't give a fuck if this woman has any positive effect on the world. Her motivation is that she personally is the arbiter of who should and shouldn't be allowed to have children, in general, and not limited to drug addicts. That is monstrous. If she breaks any laws I would be quite happy to see her imprisoned, because she is a dangerous person.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby greengiant » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:13 am UTC

Yeah, sorry about the whole eugenics thing, probably sidetracked the conversation a bit. I didn't mean to imply this was actually being used as a form of eugenics. Discussions of whether a person can have a genetic predisposition to drug addiction are probably not very relevant to this topic.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure how I came to make the eugenics analogy. I can only think that I must have read something else which was denouncing project prevention as a form of eugenics. I call not-quite-Godwin's Law on myself.

Edit: Ah, yeah. Probably something like that. Although even if she is a eugencist, I still agree with the others that this probably doesn't qualify as eugenics.

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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:25 am UTC

Dream wrote:She is a eugenecist, plain and simple. She preys on vulnerable people who in her mind are not worthy of the same human rights as she enjoys.
Her next project, she says, will be in Haiti. "We're going to offer depo [contraceptive] injections every three months to women in exchange for food cards. The women in Haiti are having children they can't even feed, so why are they getting pregnant? Just think about how much suffering that's going to prevent."

My jaw drops. "Step out of your job here," she implores me. "Give me one logical reason why somebody should conceive a child they can't feed!"

Then she begins talking about women in Africa who have Aids, "My thinking is, why are they having these babies? I'm sorry – tell me that you don't agree! If you know you have Aids, why are you getting pregnant and having babies that you know are going to have Aids? Babies are suffering. It's preventable."

She tells me about one occasion when she "went after" a Detroit woman she'd read about in the paper. Her 13th baby had just been taken off life support and she was refusing sterilisation because she wanted more children. "I said, no, she's not going to have any more kids, not if I've got anything to do with it. I called Detroit and asked my volunteers to find her. They offered her $500 to get tubal ligation. The day she had it, I celebrated."

How can she celebrate tracking someone down and forcing sterilisation on her? "I'm proud of it," she beams. "That woman has no right to have her 14th baby. I guarantee that anybody who cares about kids would do the same thing."


I couldn't give a fuck if this woman has any positive effect on the world. Her motivation is that she personally is the arbiter of who should and shouldn't be allowed to have children, in general, and not limited to drug addicts. That is monstrous. If she breaks any laws I would be quite happy to see her imprisoned, because she is a dangerous person.


Trust the Grauniad to rail against this.

How can she celebrate tracking someone down and forcing sterilisation on her?


Emphasis mine. Since when has an offer of money ever been considered force?
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby M.C. » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:28 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:Since when has an offer of money ever been considered force?

Because these are people desperate for money due to a addiction they have no control over.
I doubt you'd approve of poor people being paid to sell their organs.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:31 am UTC

I kind of agree with her point over having children which you know are going to suffer, or you're not going to be able to look after... However, she seems to want to enforce that viewpoint on the world, and that's Not CoolTM.

She also clearly doesn't understand the nature of addiction that well if she thinks this will be preventative, or comprihend/care how vunlnerable the people she's cohersing into waiving their reproductive rights are*.

*As a skint student, I'd certainly entertain the possiblity of having a vasectomy for paying off my current debts, but don't know if if'd take the offer (I don't know that I want children, and would happily adopt if I later realised I did) and I know that's almost entirely motivated by the stress of living on a financial knifedge.
I can only imagine how tempting enough money for a couple of grammes of your drug of choice in exchange for sterilisation sounds to an addict who's down on their luck.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:32 am UTC

M.C. wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:Since when has an offer of money ever been considered force?

Because these are people desperate for money due to a addiction they have no control over.
I doubt you'd approve of poor people being paid to sell their organs.


So what? They're poor, but they are still capable of refusing the money, in which case they are no worse off than before they were offered money. That's not force.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Josephine » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:36 am UTC

okay... wow. I'll retract what I said about being okay with it. The way she appeals to their addiction is despicable. It ends up being an offer they wouldn't have taken if they weren't desperate, so in my book, it becomes involuntary.

Slyreaper, they have very little ability to be rational about that. One could get a drug addict to do anything for money.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:42 am UTC

Rationality is a prerequesite to be able to exert your own will now? I guess none of us can exert our will.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby M.C. » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:42 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
M.C. wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:Since when has an offer of money ever been considered force?

Because these are people desperate for money due to a addiction they have no control over.
I doubt you'd approve of poor people being paid to sell their organs.


So what? They're poor, but they are still capable of refusing the money, in which case they are no worse off than before they were offered money. That's not force.

If a poor person had no food and needed money to live, do you really think there is much free will? Are they really capable to refuse if the alternative is unpalatable? Sell your kidney for vital food is the same as having your tubes tangled for vital drugs. It's blackmail.

Edit: typo!
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Josephine » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:43 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:Rationality is a prerequesite to be able to exert your own will now? I guess none of us can exert our will.

That wasn't worded very well. thinking clearly, perhaps?
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:44 am UTC

Everyone is irrational to some degree, but should we intervene by saying that irrational people should not be presented with a choice? Is there some line you can draw where people more rational than X should be allowed to make important choices about their lives, and people below X aren't?

Sorry, the obvious bias and hyperbole of that guardian article irked me.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Gelsamel » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:51 am UTC

nbonaparte wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:Rationality is a prerequesite to be able to exert your own will now? I guess none of us can exert our will.

That wasn't worded very well. thinking clearly, perhaps?


I doubt they'll let someone high on acid actually undergo a sterilisation procedure, I'm pretty sure you have to be sober before the doctors will do anything, informed consent and all.

You just disagree (heavily I suppose) with their priorities. If one wants to sell their reproduction for money, and if they want to use that money for drugs, they should be able to (Although I guess buying illegal drugs is... illegal?). They own their body afterall, so they should be able to sell it.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Maurog » Mon Oct 18, 2010 11:53 am UTC

Of all the things you could make a drug addict do for money, sterilization is about the best.

Because they are clearly in no position, neither mentally nor financially, to raise children. And if they ever satisfy those two, they will be able to reverse their sterilization, will they not?

I don't believe in the magical power of children to make drug addicts come clean.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Ulc » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:00 pm UTC

I think it's important to discern between the two cases

Permanent sterilisation is a huge decision, and I don't believe that women addicted to drugs are able to give informed consent about such a decision, when faced with a amount of money that can keep them high for a week.

Medical sterilisation however, is IMO far more acceptable, because the women are not faced with a decision that will have a impact on their life ten years from now.

Maurog, reversing a sterilisation is very hard, and carries a fairly low success rate - basically, except in a few lucky cases, it's permanent.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby BlackSails » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

Ulc wrote:
Maurog, reversing a sterilisation is very hard, and carries a fairly low success rate - basically, except in a few lucky cases, it's permanent.


It depends on the sterilization procedure.

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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:19 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I doubt they'll let someone high on acid actually undergo a sterilisation procedure, I'm pretty sure you have to be sober before the doctors will do anything, informed consent and all.


You don't get high on acid, and it's not addictive. You're right in saying that it would be obvious to the urologist that someone was tripping balls and shouldn't be choosing to get the snip right then.

An addict however can be totally rational in every way other than having a physiological need to use their drug of choice... any normally unreasonable offer that plays to that particular need is cynical cohersion of the most vicious kind.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Silknor » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:27 pm UTC

For those making the claim that this is just like selling a kidney and thus bad:

Why is selling a kidney (or possibly any other body part where it would be safe to donate part of it, perhaps marrow or a portion of liver), given informed consent, such a bad thing? Yes, praying on desperation is bad, but that need not be descriptive of every or even most examples of either procedure.

Would your view of the morality change if instead of a private citizen, it was a government offering a financial incentive for say, parents of three or more children to have a reversible sterilization?
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Josephine » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:36 pm UTC

Silknor wrote:Would your view of the morality change if instead of a private citizen, it was a government offering a financial incentive for say, parents of three or more children to have a reversible sterilization?

Reversible? Yes, it's different. And a financial incentive to the general public (or a negative incentive, like China) is different.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby PeterCai » Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:10 pm UTC

have you guys ever met a fiend? do you seriously think that a desperate addict can give informed consent? if you guys aren't ok with her doing it to any other groups of human with comprimised ability to consent, then you shouldn't be ok with her doing it to addicts.

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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Plasma Man » Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:54 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:...Since when has an offer of money ever been considered force?
Well, an offer of money isn't force, per se, but a quick look at the Project Prevention Wikipedia page shows that
Barbara Harris [...] attempted to get legislation passed in California which would have mandated sterilization for mothers who gave birth to babies who were exposed to cocaine as fetuses. After this failed, she opted instead to start what is now called Project Prevention.
This is obviously someone who believes in using force to bar certain people from reproduction. When her bid for legislation failed, she seems to have changed tack and to now be trying to achieve the same end with money.

My other concern about Project Prevention is a lack of oversight. The only other scenario where people would be offered money for undergoing medical treatment (as far as I know) is in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are required to be overseen by a medical ethics committee to ensure that they are acting in an ethical manner. I don't see any similar oversight with Project Prevention, something I find very worrying.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Spambot5546 » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:03 pm UTC

So can i, as a non druggie, take this deal? I have no interest in having children and she's offering enough cash for a 360.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Diadem » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:06 pm UTC

While I agree that it is questionable if drug addicts are able to give informed consent when it comes to money, I have to wonder: If someone is not rational enough to give informed consent about sterilization, can they be rational enough to have kids (and with 'have kids' I mean, in this context, 'raise them succesfully')?

Surely we can all agree that drug addicts having kids is a bad idea, and it is worth looking into solutions for this problem?
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Vaniver » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:29 pm UTC

M.C. wrote:I doubt you'd approve of poor people being paid to sell their organs.
I would. Organ markets are a good thing.

Likewise, I don't think society is worse off due to the existence of this woman. She's giving her targets another decision to regret- but it's hard to argue their acceptance is her fault, rather than the addiction's fault. And she is reducing suffering.

I do find it rather troubling that she tried coercive methodology first, and I am glad that attempt failed. But I don't think her desire to adjust the population of new babies is a moral failure.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Dream » Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:55 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Surely we can all agree that drug addicts having kids is a bad idea, and it is worth looking into solutions for this problem?

No, of course not. There really isn't anything connecting drug use or addiction to bad parenting. Or to look at it another way, there's no more reason to connect the two than there is to connect alcoholism or poverty to bad parenting. Parenting and substance abuse are not mutually exclusive in any way. More specifically to this problem, there are many drug addicts who are doubtless poor parents, and many who are unfit to be parents, but those people aren't being singled out by this woman. She's tempting all addicts she can reach with her publicity to do something irreversibly damaging to themselves in return for money that they likely desperately need to either fuel their addiction or sustain themselves in addiction related poverty.

This is not a case of a person pushing a solution to a problem. It's a person who has anointed themselves arbiter of what is and isn't a problem, and who is pursuing an extremely risky and ethically unsound course of action in relation to that problem. If the problem for her was really disadvantaged children, she's be working with disadvantaged children, or targeting specifically addicts who cannot care for a child. Parenting support for drug addicted parents would be a far more useful way to address the disadvantages the children of addicts face. But it's not even just about addiction either. She wants to apply her ideas to other things she doesn't like in parents, like HIV status and poverty. She's sterilising people she doesn't think should reproduce, not unfit parents who are a risk to their potential children.
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Charity offers UK drug addicts £200 to be sterilised

Postby Angua » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:03 pm UTC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11545519

I'm not really sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I can see where she's coming from in that babies born to addicts, especially addicted mothers, often have many problems at birth. It's also pretty exploitative, as addicts are often the people who are desperate for money, and if they ever manage to break their addiction then they might later regret this.

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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Vaniver » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:07 pm UTC

Dream wrote:There really isn't anything connecting drug use or addiction to bad parenting.
...what.
Dream wrote:Or to look at it another way, there's no more reason to connect the two than there is to connect alcoholism or poverty to bad parenting.
So, you mean, there's reams of studies suggesting that's the case, and oceans of personal anecdotes suggesting that's the case.

Dream wrote:Parenting and substance abuse are not mutually exclusive in any way.
Of course they aren't mutually exclusive. What does that statement tell you about correlation or about causation?

Dream wrote:It's a person who has anointed themselves arbiter of what is and isn't a problem,
You realize this describes every idealist ever, right?

Dream wrote:If the problem for her was really disadvantaged children, she's be working with disadvantaged children, or targeting specifically addicts who cannot care for a child.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, to use an example, is not something you can fix. If you want to reduce the number of children with FAS, the only way is to have fewer pregnant mothers that consume too much alcohol. That is not the case for other diseases: if you want to reduce the number of children with cholera, you can invest in both cholera prevention and cholera treatment. People can get over cholera.
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Re: Charity offers UK drug addicts £200 to be sterilised

Postby Dream » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:08 pm UTC

The thread is right above this one.
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Re: Charity offers UK drug addicts £200 to be sterilised

Postby Jesse » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:09 pm UTC

Now it's below.

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Re: Charity offers UK drug addicts £200 to be sterilised

Postby Angua » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:18 pm UTC

I did look - I swear - just missed out on the name of the charity. I am obviously in need of lots of sleep and am very sorry.

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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Dream » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:18 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Dream wrote:There really isn't anything connecting drug use or addiction to bad parenting.
...what.
Dream wrote:Or to look at it another way, there's no more reason to connect the two than there is to connect alcoholism or poverty to bad parenting.
So, you mean, there's reams of studies suggesting that's the case, and oceans of personal anecdotes suggesting that's the case.

My point is that it isn't about the drugs themselves. You can be a terrible parent because you have a financially debilitating need to buy expensive cars and spend all your time driving them instead of taking your kids to the doctor. Or anything else you're doing when you should be parenting. But the moment you reverse that and suggest that being a bad parent is something that magically happens the moment you put a needle in your arm (or buy a too-expensive car with your kid's education funds) you're way out of line. What you're saying is unsupportable because it's a senseless proposition. That's why this woman is so objectionable. She's decided that needing drugs equals needing sterilisation. That's wrong. What you're arguing is that drugs leading people to be bad parents is good reason for having a monetarily encouraged voluntary sterilisation option for those people. That's not what she's doing.
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, to use an example, is not something you can fix. If you want to reduce the number of children with FAS, the only way is to have fewer pregnant mothers that consume too much alcohol.

Which is why I said she should be, but isn't targeting addicts who are having or are likely to have children. She wants to sterilise addicts, not prevent dangerous pregnancies. Or is a father who shoots up risking foetal damage?
Last edited by Dream on Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:20 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Project Prevention: Paying addicts to be sterilised

Postby Maurog » Mon Oct 18, 2010 3:18 pm UTC

Targeting specifically addicts who cannot care for a child.

I'm pretty sure if A is "addicts who cannot care for a child" and B is "addicts willing to sterilize themselves for £200", then B ⊂ A.
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