As 2017 came to a close, Vice News profiled a woman named Barbara Harris, whose organization pays drug addicts to get themselves sterilized or have an IUD implanted.
Traveling the country in her branded RV, Harris thinks of herself as a crusader for the many unfortunate children born into a miserable life with drug addicted parents. Indeed, many of the women whom Harris works with have as many as seven children, despite being addicted to heroine, meth, cocaine or crack.
“Nothing positive comes to a drug addict who gives birth to eight children that are taken away from her. This is a win-win for everybody,” Harris says of her operation.
Having operated for over 20 years and receiving millions in donations, Harris has now paid for the sterilization and long-term birth control of roughly 7,000 people, a majority of whom are black women. She began her operation after adopting four children who were all born from the same drug-addicted mother.
Harris’ moral reasoning is purely Machiavellian. In her mind, the ends justify the means because sterilization means fewer babies will be born into an unfortunate situation, some of whom suffer severe birth defects. “I think if there’s anything that everyone can agree on … It’s that it’s not okay to abuse children,” Harris says in justifying her practice.
One prevention that Harris (as well as many misguided Libertarians) disagrees with is sending hard drug users to jail, as in the case of one woman who was prosecuted for taking drugs while pregnant.
When asked if the addicts have informed consent in their taking money to sterilize themselves, Harris hands the responsibility off to doctors.
On the flipside, Vice News also profiled the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which has sharply disagreed with the tactics used by Harris for the past 20 years. Lynn Paltrow, the organization’s executive director, says that Harris “perpetuates really destructive and cruel myths about pregnant women and their children.” In sum, Harris operates under false assumptions, which are: that children of drug addicts have no hope, that drug addicts cannot improve, and that children of drug addicts are destined for medical disabilities.
Paltrow notes that only 3% of women on the hardest drugs give birth to children with serious birth defects, and of those drug-addicted women, some do recover to become productive members of society.