The California-based organization Children Requiring A Caring Kommunity (CRACK) announced its plans to operate in the Washington, D.C. area. The highly controversial program offers $200 cash to drug-addicts who will seek “long-term birth control.” Options include Norplant and the Intra-uterine device, although CRACK reports that half of the addicts who have claimed their $200 have undergone tubal ligations.
CRACK is financially and politically supported by conservative leaders including the inflammatory and anti-gay Dr. Laura Schlessinger. The program’s alleged mission is to “offer effective preventive measures to reduce the tragedy of numerous drug affected pregnancies” (www.cashforbirthcontrol.com), but it has been criticized by many as “racist and dehumanizing,” says the Post. DC’s health department deputy director in charge of substance abuse services Larry Siegel questioned the ethics of the program, noting that it capitalizes on addicts’ need for cash and effectively coerces them into a life-altering decision. He also noted that the DC ad campaign, which will include Metro bus ads partially funded by tax dollars, will disproportionately target African Americans.
CRACK focuses on the statistics regarding drug-addicted infants, calling its program of cash-for-birth-control a legitimate means of reducing the number of infants born with drug addiction, HIV, and developmental and emotional disorders. But Bill McColl, Executive Director of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors pointed out in an interview with the Washington Post that $200 would cover over a week of long-term care in a residential drug rehabilitation facility. Helping women overcome their drug addiction, he and other opponents of CRACK’s program assert, is the long-term and ethical solution.