U.S. Program Pays Addicted Britons to Use Birth Control

A U.S. charity that had planned to pay British women abusing drugs to be sterilized is now paying them to have birth control devices implanted, BBC News reported Mar. 8.

In early 2010, Project Prevention, a charity based in North Carolina, said it would expand to the United Kingdom (U.K.). It launched its program there in October, saying it would pay women addicted to drugs 200 pounds if they would agree to be sterilized.

According to the BBC, the organization now says that “no women took up that offer because the British Medical Association did not back the proposal,” so it has begun to offer cash to females struggling with addiction who will agree to be fitted with contraceptive coils or implants. Project Prevention says it has paid 26 women to date.

Barbara Harris, who founded the charity in 1997 after adopting four children born to a woman addicted to crack cocaine, said money was a good incentive. “If these women get on birth control, it’s one less thing they have to worry about in their lives,” she said. “These women don’t want to conceive children that are just going to get taken away from them.”

Kaleidoscope, a Welsh charity, plans to adapt Project Prevention’s cash approach. It will offer women involved with drugs vouchers worth 50 pounds at the supermarket in exchange for attending a family health clinic and, the BBC said, agreeing to a “planned approach.” Services provided at the clinic would include information about sexually-transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

“In terms of pregnancy, we would like to work with those who’d like a child to be in the best physical or mental state,” said Kaleidoscope’s CEO, Martin Blakebrough. “For those who don’t want to have a child, we want to support them with the best prevention methods available.”

Project Prevention has plenty of critics. When it first announced it would open a branch in the U.K., the charity’s approach was called “morally reprehensible and irrelevant” by Simon Antrobus, the CEO of a London substance abuse treatment agency, Addaction.

He explained, “Sex education and contraceptive advice is part of drug treatment work in this country. Women who use drugs can access all types of contraception for free on the National Health Service, including a number of long-term options.”

Tammi, a 25-year-old mother of two interviewed by the BBC, said that Project Prevention’s plan was “ridiculous.” A former heroin addict, she now receives methadone from Kaleidoscope.

She scoffed at the idea of paying drug users for contraception. “That money is going to go straight on drugs and drink,” she said. “It’s a short-term fix that won’t solve anything.”

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