An Interview with the Woman Who Pays Drug Addicts to Get Sterilized
In 1989, Barbara Harris founded C.R.A.C.K, or Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity, the program that would eventually be rebranded as Project Prevention, although it was never technically renamed.
What they do at Project Prevention is, according to Harris, “work to get drug addicts and alcoholics on long-term birth control so they don’t conceive while using.” How they get them on long-term birth control is, they pay them $300.
Since its inception Project Prevention has provided incentives that led to tubal ligations, contraceptive implants, and vasectomies for over 4,000 people in the US and the UK.
I set out to talk to Barbara about what it’s like to pay people to get sterilized, but during our phone call we got into the moral complexities of Project Prevention, and what it’s like to be the organization’s public face. I also asked her about her brother-in-law who smokes crack.
VICE: A question I’m sure you get asked all the time is, how do you usually respond when somebody calls you a eugenicist or a Nazi?
Barbara Harris: It doesn’t bother me. People come to us by choice. We don’t force anybody to do anything. And what we’re doing is preventing suffering and damage to innocent children, so it’s nothing compared to any of that. It doesn’t bother me, I’ve been called everything, it doesn’t matter. ‘Cause I know the motives behind what I’m doing and I know what the reasons are.
How is 2014 going for Project Prevention?
Well it’s going very well. In the very beginning when we first started the organization it was kind of taboo to work with us or talk with us, but it’s getting to the point now where people are just fed up.
And even those who oppose what we do, they don’t have a solution, they just want to yell: “You shouldn’t do it.” Just like those who stand out at the abortion clinics saying, “Don’t have an abortion.” If the women try not to have an abortion, would they raise their children? Probably not.
So, just for the record, you don’t consider yourself to be anti-abortion in any way?
I think that our organization doesn’t take a stand on that one way or another but we’re preventing abortions because the women that come through our program have had numerous abortions. They use abortions for birth control.