Pubdate: Fri, 28 Mar 2003
Source: Shorthorn, The  (TX Edu Arlington)
Copyright: 2003 The Shorthorn.
Author: Demond Reid
Note: The author is a journalism senior and a regular columnist for The


One Organization Pays Addicts To Be Sterilized To Reduce The Number Of
Drug-Exposed Newborns

Approximately 800,000 substance-exposed infants have been born every year
since 1995, according to the Department of Health. Fewer than 20 percent of
those babies go home with their mothers. The other 80 percent have legal
petitions filed against the mothers and are placed in foster care.

Statistics such as these have caused a debate on how to stop the increasing
number of drug-addicted babies in this country to sprout faster than a
marijuana plant saturated in Miracle-Gro .

Big Brother has tried to combat this problem of drug-addicted babies by
attacking the source, namely the drug trade. This is a nice try. The U.S.
government's war on drugs has been a bigger flop than Kevin Costner's
Waterworld. Acknowledging the government's inability to do anything about
the growing problem, Barbara Harris, an advocate for children's rights,
proposed a radical yet very good idea. Harris and her husband started the
organization Children Requiring A Caring Kommunity, or CRACK, which offers
drug addicts $200 to get sterilized. Given enough time and support, this
organization could prove to be the magic sword that slays the dragon of
drug-exposed infants. 

The concept of paying drug addicts $200 to get sterilized is brilliant in
its simplicity because it hinges on the simple fact that drug addicts need
money. California, the base of this organization, has been offering free
tubal ligations to drug addicts for quite a while, but when an addict is
living crack pipe to crack pipe, that offer means very little. Two hundred
dollars to a non-addict is the equivalent of about five grams of happiness
to a crackhead.

The cost for taking care of abandoned drug babies falls onto the American
taxpayer. These babies are coined "million-dollar" babies because the
medical cost for one leap frogs over the $1 million line.

According to CRACK, the typical drug addict has seven children. Now, if the
decision is between $7 million ($1 million per baby) absorbed by the
American taxpayer and a $200 nip and tuck, somebody page Dr. Cut 'Em Up and
tell him to sharpen his scalpel. The choice is not exactly a Catch-22.

As of March 13, CRACK has paid more than 900 sterilization clients. Assuming
that each of these clients would have met the seven-baby average, this
organization has saved the American taxpayer approximately $6.5 billion.
Six-point-five billion dollars. That is almost enough money to start a war
with a small militant country.

The organization has taken the concept of the rights of the unborn to the
next logical step. They are advocating the rights of the unconceived. Every
zygote should have the right not to be conceived inside a mother who will
get them hooked on drugs in the womb. Face it, on the grand ol' birth defect
preference list, being born addicted to drugs runs right below being born
with only three fingers and right above being born with a foot growing out
of your neck.

As with any simple solution to a complex problem, CRACK's approach has met
opposition. A main contention against the organization's method is the
finality of it.

The opponents of CRACK believe an individual may one day turn his or her
life around and should not be bribed into making long-term medical decisions
while battling a drug addiction since getting mixed up in drugs was just a
"bad decision."

No. Getting strung out on drugs is not a bad decision. Wearing a paisley
shirt with plaid pants is a bad decision. Insulting Mike Tyson's mother to
his face is a bad decision. Getting strung out on drugs is insane.

If people decide to sell their reproductive rights for a $200 signing bonus,
they do not deserve any playing time for the parental all-star team. In
fact, they should not even be allowed to watch the game.

CRACK's solution is a better alternative to the game Uncle Sam wants drug
addicts to play. Granted, drug addicts have rolled doubles for the third
time, but rather than sending them directly to jail, CRACK allows them to
pass go, collect $200 and find a crack house somewhere on Baltic Avenue.
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