Fascinating discussion on Radio 4 last week with an update this morning about 'Project Prevention', an organisation in the United States which offers drug users long term contraception, or sterilisation in return for money. They are bringing this model to the UK and quite rightly there has been quite strong response to it.
I am shocked. The whole idea of it smacks of Eugenics. I studied Eugenics during my Masters and there is amble proof that shows that the thinking of the day that one must sterilize the weak, vulnerable and poor for a better society was a direct result of the psychologizing of the Jews and the consequent horrors of the Holocaust. For anyone to deny this link is being naive. Interesting to point out that the last forced sterilization law was disbanded only in the 1960's and that was in Virginia in the States. Of course here it is 'voluntary' - cohesion, persuasion, coaxing, enticing, do not come into it?? Oh yes there is a money incentive - offering money to a drug addict. It is not a choice as money for drugs is part of the vicious cycle in which these desperate women are caught. Addicts do not think long-term, they only want a quick fix and they will do anything to ensure that they get that fix be it stealing or sterilizing.
And then when they get their life sorted out and they wish to start a family - they are denied this their fundamental right as a human being.
BUT and of course it is a very big BUT - what about the children? What about the children born to addicts who cannot look after them? Who neglect, abuse and abandon them? No one wishes a child to come into the world where it will not get its basic needs met. No one wants to see children not being cared for. And there are hundreds and thousands of these children - what happens to them? And there is the rub. They grow up in institutions, foster families, care homes, on the streets. They do not have the chance of a normal life - their's will always be a struggle and they will always be missing something. But should they not exist? Because their life is not perfect does that mean that we should deny them the chance to live?? To breathe, to laugh, to think??
Who is that who thinks that they have to right to deny a child its life?
The social and welfare system could be much better, that there is no doubt. And once that child has come into the world we must take care of him or her. We must give mothers the chance to rehabilitate and we must give children loving families. But we must not give women who are not thinking clearly an enticement of money in exchange for sterilization and we cannot pretend that we are giving them a choice.