Cash for birth control - if you're a junkie.
June 11, 2000 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Cash for birth control - if you're a junkie. Came across an ad for this organization while riding a train that serves a number of low income Chicago projects. I'm hard pressed to figure out what this is about. On first glance, it seems to be an effort to help drug addicted mothers avoid unwanted pregnancies. However, upon further reflection, it takes on the guise of a frightening genetic engineering program.
posted by aladfar (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
C.R.A.C.K.?! what an awful acronym!
posted by starduck at 7:38 PM on June 11, 2000

Actually, the more precise term (and it's an ugly one) is Eugenics.
posted by harmful at 7:39 PM on June 11, 2000

This URL was advertised with an insert on the blue line "El" train here in Chicago. Thrifty travelers often use the train to get from O'Hare to the loop for a mere $1.50.

For the most part, however, the blue line serves as the primary means of transportation for many of those who live in Chicago's housing projects.

Individuals who are primarily black, and whose neighborhoods are riddled with crack viles, gang violence and abuse.

This organization - CRACK, seems to be interested in providing drug addicted mothers from this community with birth control so that they don't bring children into what is undoubtedly an awful situation to be born into.

While this seems honorable enough, it scares me very much. The women who take advantage of this program are being paid $200 to take birth control - money that will no doubt be used to purchase more drugs.

In short, this organization is insuring that minority women in Chicago don't reproduce, while at the same time helping to promote their addiction, and perhaps hastening their demise.

Does this freak anyone else out?
posted by aladfar at 7:47 PM on June 11, 2000

Lest anyone misunderstand, they're not handing out condoms or even birth control pills for $200.

C.R.A.C.K. offers $200 to individuals who participate in long term or permanent birth control.

In every report I've read/heard/watched about this group, they're looking to sterilize women. This means no children of their own . . . ever again. (Unless they can afford the insanely expensive and not always successful 'reverse sterilization' procedures)

posted by alan at 8:22 PM on June 11, 2000

Yes, C.R.A.C.K. is an awful acronym.

While I do think it is pretty sleazy to specifically target certain communities (I remember working on the American Stock Exchange one summer and they're all coke fiends) I don't think the idea is terrible. Having a child is a massive responsibility. And if you're foolish enough to get yourself addicted to something you have no business having children no matter who you are or where you come from.
posted by Nyarlathotep at 8:49 PM on June 11, 2000

A ringing endorsement of CRACK from Dr. Laura:

"Some organizations just need me to mention them. Others just need my money. I felt this was an organization that not only needed my money, but my name too."

Dr. Laura Schlessinger

So, you know it's got to be all about doing what's best for disadvantaged people all over this fine country of ours.
posted by aladfar at 9:14 PM on June 11, 2000

The fact that Dr. Laura supports something is not inherent proof that the concept is flawed.
posted by aaron at 10:01 PM on June 11, 2000

I think of all the El trains that run in Chicago, the blue line is the least likely to serve any of the projects. Unless they are coming from the south side and making the connection at Lake transfer. The Blue line runs mainly through mostly white suburbs and ends in the loop.
Even so, I am sure the ad you mentioned is on all the trains, I will make a point to look for it tomorrow morning.
I do not see why anybody should be concerned by this program. Some of the arguments suggesting that this is about evil are slanderous towards the people you are claiming to be looking out for. Are you saying that ALL minority women are addicted. It was said that this program was INSURING they would not reproduce. If they do have children, and do not raise them properly, will it then be suggested that we would be better off spending 30 grand to send the child to college rather than 60 grand to send them to prision. I have heard that argument many times. Using that logic, aren't we better off spending $200 now? What are the other alternatives, should we pay junkies to have children? Should we ignore the children junkies have? Aren't there just too many people all around, shouldn't we all think twice before having kids?
As for the idea of targeting. I imagine they are targeting anybody so messed up with addiction that they would allow themselves to be sterilized for $200 bucks. I have known white people who have done much worse for less money, and eventually died from overdoses. I doubt people working on the stock exchange are so hard up for so little money. Would you have a class system? If you make over this much, we will pay you this much. If you make under this much we will pay you less that those other guys.
Lastly, on the topic of eugenics. The word is not ugly, the history of the movement is ugly. When my wife and I decide to have a child (if we decide to have a child) we plan to have a genetic test done. It is a kindness to prevent your unconcieved children from suffering from birth defects that we are able to see in advance. I know we cannot screen for everything, but common recessive genes can be detected and planned for. Is this evil? The government should not be involved in our breeding, but we should have an interest in it ourselves.
posted by thirteen at 11:59 PM on June 11, 2000

I don't know what to think. My first feeling is I dislike the thought of paying someone else to undertakelong term or permanent birth control, it does conjure up the idea of genetic engineering. Nevertheless, society has to deal with this problem. My mother fostered children when I was 16 or 17, the 2 children had many problems which was directly related to the fact that the mother was a drug addict and drunk excessively during pregnancy. No matter what happens these 2 children will have great difficulty in functioning as normal members of society for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, these seems to be no responsibility on the part of parents like this not to have children (this particular mother has had 6 children) or be responsible for the children when they are born (all her children have been made wards of the state). I am not suggesting a 'license' be given to parents as I see that as too draconian, but I believe something has to be done. I have also met this one girl whose brother has some kind of hereditary genetic disease which affects all males on the mother's side of the family. From the age of 20, the male starts to slowly lose all body functions. Now, he is in a wheel chair and can only move his head slowly. Ultimately, he will die within the next year. Before he was born, his mother knew that there was a 100% chance he would have this uncureable and untreatable disease (apparently, she wanted a baby son), yet went through the pregnancy. Even though she saw what it did to her own relatives. To me this is cruel.

posted by jay at 2:41 AM on June 12, 2000

The site says that women can opt for Norplant. They don't have to get sterilized. It's real easy to call this eugenics, but that seems like a cheap argument to me.. This sounds like a good idea.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:55 AM on June 12, 2000

I don't quite understand where eugenics comes into play here.

If a mother is exposed to drugs of pretty much any kind, there's an awfully good chance that child is going to be damaged in one way or another.

Rather than dealing with abandoned crack addicted babies, these people are trying to prevent such a situation before it begins, and I commend them on it.

I doubt they're targeting specifically towards minorities, but quite probably towards low-income housing. Yes, minorities are represented more than the majorities in low-income housing districts, but despite race, colour or creed, the low-income housing areas in any part of the world are the ones that are much more affected by crime, drug abuse and pregnancies by those unable of caring for the child.

(wow, long sentence. sorry)

Is it their fault? Hell no, but it is a reality. Do the problems exists elsewhere? Damn right, but it's greatly exacerbated in situations with a lot of people without any money.

I'm in favour of sterilization of pretty much everybody, with governmentally controlled child-births. You need a license or you pay a fine, or you get an abortion. There are SIX BILLION people on this planet. We're going to achieve critical mass soon enough.

I realize that's probably not a worldview that's terribly popular, but that's probably the result of reading too much Heinlen during those developmental years. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:18 AM on June 12, 2000

This still looks to me as much like a group of moralists trying to dictate who is or isn't suitable to pass on their genes, as a proposed solution to a medical problem. A ringing endorsement from someone who has declared a large class of people 'genetic errors' doesn't help that opinion.
posted by harmful at 7:10 AM on June 12, 2000

For thirteen:
You're quite right about the blue line - I was exaggerating for the sake of people not from Chicago. You must admit, however, that the blue line serves a much different clientele than the Red line - I didn't see the ad on that train (though it's probably there somewhere).

As for the short term birth control - norplant, IUD's, etc. I must admit that I didn't notice these options before I posted.

However, I'd feel a lot more comfortable about this program were they giving away birth control and drug counseling for free. The site states that "there's nothing we can do to keep people off drugs". I disagree with this.

The community would be much better served by programs that try to help these people and the deplorable state of their neighborhoods, as opposed to a program that pays them not to reproduce.

And as for a Dr. Laura endorsement - that does pretty much render the entire concept invalid (at least for me - close minded, perhaps).

Don't misunderstand - I believe that these women should not be having children. I'm not pro life, and I feel that something really does need to be done about these communtites.

It's just that I don't believe this group would go after the many drug addicted individuals who are white, gainfully employed, etc. It's methods target specific minority groups - this is wrong.
posted by aladfar at 7:15 AM on June 12, 2000

Hmm. Was it 'genetic errors' or 'biological errors'? I just realized that I might have been mistaken, but I still find either phrasing odious.
posted by harmful at 7:22 AM on June 12, 2000

"I'm in favour of sterilization of pretty much everybody, with governmentally controlled child-births. You need a license or you pay a fine, or you get an abortion."

That is fucked up. If the government tells me I need their permission to have a kid, that government is going to go away. I promise. I would never let that happen.

As far as the group mentioned in the post, I think they are an option worth considering. It seems to me they are targeting people who can't afford to raise children, but are going to have them anyway. If they are only targeting poor minorities, and are ignoring poor whites folks, I wouldn't be able to support that. Does anyone have evidence that is happening?
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:50 AM on June 12, 2000

cCranium, have you read "Brave New World"?
posted by daveadams at 7:56 AM on June 12, 2000

C.R.A.C.K is a popular acronymn. I saw another thing on the El that used it in a tollfree number that allowed you to call and turn in drug dealers.
I have not seen the sign on the red or brown lines, but I will keep looking for them. I don't think the city or the ad agency that posts those placards would agree to such a tight focus of advertising. If for no other reason than laziness.
Aldafar: I am still not sure what you mean about the people served by the blue line. The red line serves Rodger Park to the North and the Robert Taylor homes to the South. Both of these areas serve large minority populations. Wait, I just checked a CTA map and see that the blue line extends west of the loop into some poorer mostly black neighborhoods. I was mistaken when I said the line ended downtown. I still maintain the Blue line is the least likely to serve minorities by and large. The question is are these ads pasted all over the Green and Orange trains running on the south side.
I still am not sure what it is that these people are doing wrong. What would those who disagree replace it with. Does anybody think they turn away white people who would take them up on their offer. I have heard similar accusations made against Planned Parenthood. Should we do away with that racist institution as well?
I think it would be wonderful to live in a world where people did not need to be bribed not to give birth to crack babies. That is not happening. If this is not the solution what is? I am not sure any bribery program is gonna work on people who are gainfully employed no matter what their color. Does that mean we abandon it for those it can work on. Is it not possible they are actually helping people?
I think it is good to question things, and I thank Aldafar for bring up such an interesting thread, but I think it is bad to dismiss things out of hand, with nothing to replace them.
posted by thirteen at 9:19 AM on June 12, 2000

I am groggy and illiterate. I am sorry I spelled Aladfar's name wrong.
posted by thirteen at 9:23 AM on June 12, 2000

I wouldn't go so far as to say all births should be government-approved (I'm pro-choice, and to me, outlawing abortions and outlawing "unapproved" births are equally intrusive), but I will say the idea of giving irresponsible people (that would be *drug addicts*, specifically) incentive to be responsible with the biggest responsibility of them all---bringing another life onto this poor overburdened planet---cannot possibly be a bad idea.

it sounds like a hell of a leap in logic to me to go from "advertising on trains" to "insuring that minority women don't reproduce". For that to really be the case, you'd have to assume 1) CRACK doesn't advertise anywhere else 2) white people don't ride trains and 3) every woman who sees this ad will be compelled against her will to go get spayed.
posted by Sapphireblue at 12:40 PM on June 12, 2000

y6y6y6: Yes, I think the number of children a person can have should be dictated by the government. I'm generally quite content with the actions and level of accountablility of my government though. Sure, there's problems with it, but that's part of the nature of the beast.

Population Control is one of my primary concerns. It beats Global Warming, and pretty much every other environmental concern in my mind, because large populations are a huge contributor to much of the environmental damage that happens on a daily basis. Sure, there's methods of paring down the damage each person does, but each person still does damage.

Yes, I'm aware that Einstein, Da Vinci and pretty much any other great thinker of our history was born without population control. I'm also aware that if Einstein hadn't pieced together his Theory of Relativity, someone would've gotten to it, and if there was no Mona Lisa we'd have one less piece of treasured art, but would we know the difference? I doubt it.

daveadams: unfortunatly, I haven't. Have you read 1984, or Atlas Shrugged, or any other great philisophical work from a couple of decades ago with arguably interesting philisophical points, but a meandering, pointless story about individualism vs. The Big Bad Government? 'Cause, frankly, if you can give me some different Double Speak references, I'd appreciate the new and original memes when I want to discuss pointless governmental paranoia with people.
posted by cCranium at 12:52 PM on June 12, 2000

ermm.. that sounded a bit more bitter than I intended it to. consider this the tongue-in-cheek retcon.
posted by cCranium at 12:54 PM on June 12, 2000

The fact that the ad is on the train isn't what makes the organization suspect.

It's just that the "services" they provide ($200 for long term or permanent birth control) are geared to very specific social and economic groups.

I AGREE that individuals within these groups are not necessairly the most qualified parents. I AGREE that we should take steps to prevent babies from being born addicted to drugs.

I strongly DISAGREE with the methods of this group. While they will no doubt claim otherwise, their actions morally unethical.

CRACK isn't trying to help these people, they're merely trying to prevent them from reproducing. They are ignoring the underlying causes of these problems, and doing nothing to change the current situation.

Wow - I've posted a lot to this thread I started. I don't mean to go "post crazy" but this really irks me.

posted by aladfar at 2:25 PM on June 12, 2000

aladfar: That's what this place is all about! Great discussions based on what's going on in the world, and people being able to disagree reasonably intelligently.

Most of the time. :-)
posted by cCranium at 2:49 PM on June 12, 2000

This is also from the CRACK home page. I think it brings something interesting to the table. I did not realize it was a nationwide organization. The numbers appear to show something less than genocide is going on. This is the part where we begin using words like per capita.
As of June 12, 2000, 228 clients have made the decision to obtain
long term or permanent birth control(see what's new page for info
regarding our first MALE CLIENT). Those women have been
pregnant a total of 1460 times.

Of 1460 total pregnancies, 520 were aborted and 937 were brought
to term.

Of those births, 114 babies were stillborn, 38 died from
complications at birth, and 526 are in foster care.

The 228 women chose a variety of birth control methods; 113 tubal
ligations, 29 Norplants, 63 Depo-Provera treatments, and 23 IUDs.

The client base is racially mixed; 96 white, 3 Native American, 24
Hispanic, 101 African American, and 5 bi-racial.
posted by thirteen at 3:11 PM on June 12, 2000

Racist bastards!!!! They want to rid the world of everyone who isn't ASIAN! How can this even be legal??!!!
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:32 PM on June 12, 2000

posted by Sapphireblue at 10:59 PM on June 12, 2000

Not that it matters much anymore , but I found the sign on the red and brown train lines today.
I also found out that 100 people locked in a train car without air conditioning throw off a frightning amount of heat. I mean a lot of heat, we should harness this somehow.
posted by thirteen at 6:40 PM on June 13, 2000

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