This was the first I’d heard of such a project. Called Project Prevention, it pays women (and men) who are drug addicts to get some long-term birth control — tubal ligation (or vasectomy), Norplant, an IUD or something similar — something they don’t have to use every time (like a condom) or every day (like birth control pills).
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know my objections to forms of birth control that may allow ovulation but prevent implantation of the embryo, because if life starts at conception (which is not even in dispute, medically, gentically, or biologically speaking), then that allows a new life to be created but prevents it from being lived. Since “abortion” and “abortifacient” are defined to refer to actions that take place after implantation, the action of preventing implantation is not technically abortifacient (although ACOG changed the definition in the 70s, so prior to that, it was considered abortifacient), but it is still bothersome for people like me. I wouldn’t take them; and for this and other reasons, I advocate against them; but I’m not going to look down on you if you do it.
But long-term birth control for drug addicts is different. This may be inconsistent at first glance, but I believe it to be actually of a more consistently pro-life stance. I’ve not done too much research into babies born to drug-addicted mothers, but I know enough to know it’s not pretty. There is a higher incidence of miscarriage, preterm birth (which also increases infant mortality by itself, even without drug abuse), stillbirth, and infant mortality among drug addicts; not to mention increased risk of pregnancy complications which further hurt the baby (which may also harm or kill the mother) such as placental abruption, IUGR, low birthweight, etc.; not to mention the neonatal and long-term complications of being a “crack baby” or having been exposed to other drugs before birth. Plus, we have to add in the dangerous and risky behavior of some addicts (such as selling her body for sex) which may increase the likelihood that these women will repeatedly get pregnant and give birth to compromised babies who will be taken from them and put into foster care (assuming they survive at all). The woman who started this program adopted four children from a drug addict (who had eight altogether), so she knows first-hand the complications they face through life, as well as the other sad statistics of pregnancy and birth. This addict had eight children. Eight. And she couldn’t care for them, because she was a slave to drugs. Other addicts have even more children, with even more pregnancies lost to miscarriage, and more babies being stillborn or dying in the first year of life, due to the maternal drug use.
I don’t know the percentage of pregnancies that are prevented by these long-term methods of birth control, but I suspect that most are prevented due to suppression of ovulation or inhibiting the sperm from reaching the egg. At least, I hope that most women using these forms of birth control “don’t get pregnant” due to preventing an embryo from implanting. I assume (and hope) that the number of babies that die after conception and before implantation due to the hormonal interference of these forms of birth control is less than the number of babies who would die after implantation (an “established pregnancy”), due to maternal drug use — from miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant mortality. Not to mention the greater problems the babies that survive face due to maternal drug use.
There have been some attempts (all unsuccessful, as far as I know) to require long-term birth control or sterilization under certain circumstances (perhaps after the birth of one drug-addicted baby, perhaps after other criteria), but I would assume it would be difficult to pass such legislation, and even if it were passed, that it would somehow be declared unconstitutional. But this is different, because it’s not mandatory; and assuming women are not being coerced into it, they are choosing it of their own free will. Which is one step of responsibility, even if they find themselves unable to kick the habit — and at least, they won’t have any babies born addicted to drugs. And it’s not a “Mississippi Appendectomy” but is her conscious choice. Nor is this racist nor eugenicist (“1,478 clients have been Caucasian, 845 African-American, 385 Hispanic,and 321 of other ethnic backgrounds”), but is strictly based on their actions (taking drugs).
So, what do you think?
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: | baby, birth, crack baby, depo-provera, drug addict, implanon, infant mortality, IUD, miscarriage, mississippi appendectomy, neonatal death, norplant, pregnancy, pregnant, sterilization, stillbirth, tubal ligation