Project Prevention Pays Drug Addicts $300 to Get Sterilized

| by Michael Allen

Project Prevention is raising eyebrows and controversy by offering drug addicts $300 to either undergo sterilization or use a form of long-term birth control.

Project Prevention has paid a total of 4,077 people (including 65 men) to get a tubal ligation (tube-tying), an IUD, implanon (a hormonal contraceptive that is implanted), Depro-Provera (an injection that lasts three months) or (for men) a vasectomy.

Based in North Carolina, Project Prevention hangs posters in nationwide in homeless shelters, methadone clinics, AA and NA meeting rooms, and near needle exchange programs. The posters say: "Don't let a pregnancy ruin your drug habit." and "She has her daddy's eyes ... and her mommy's heroin addiction."

Project Prevention founder Barbara Harris told the NY Daily News: "I think it's really important for people to understand that the majority of women we sterilize are women who have had multiple children and don't want anymore. It's their decision. And to say, 'Let's go ahead and let them keep having babies because one day they might decide to clean up and keep one?' It's just not fair. And it's preventable."

Critics say Harris' campaign deprives women who are addicted, poor and vulnerable of reproductive choice, and the $300 feeds their drug habit. Some have even called Project Prevention a return to the eugenics movement.

Harris told CBS News' 60 Minutes II: “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.”