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Controversial Sterilization Program Launched in New York

A controversial California-based program known by its acronym CRACK (Children Requiring A Caring Kommunity), has begun offering $200 to drug-addicted women and men in New York City who agree to be sterilized or use long-term birth control. Already active in San Francisco, Detroit, Kansas City and Albuquerque, CRACK has paid 833 women and 21 men nationwide – of those 369 have been permanently sterilized – since its founding by Barbara Harris in 1997.

“The name and advertising of Ôcrack’ clearly indicates a targeting of inner-city, black communities. The CRACK program is essentially an example of contemporary eugenics,” the National Black Women’s Health Project wrote in a fact sheet. “The CRACK program also shows a total disregard for the health of women. The clear message is that the health and well-being of substance abusing women is irrelevant as long as they do not reproduce.”

Throughout much of the 20th century, approximately 65,000 people in the United States were sterilized as part of a now-defunct eugenics program in 33 states that alleged “mental illness, genetic defects and social ills” could be eradicated by sterilizing people, according to the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report. Beginning in the 1960s, several states focused their eugenics programs primarily on young black women, according to Kaiser. The Disabled Action Committee and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have asked the federal government to issue an apology for these programs. The governors of North Carolina, Virginia and Oregon have recently issued such apologies for programs that took place in their states.

Sources:

New York Times 1/6/03; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 1/6/03, 1/6/03; National Black WomenÕs Health Project 1/1/01