stop sterilization abuse

C.R.A.C.K. (which stands for Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity and is also known as Positive Prevention or Project Prevention) is a national population control organization that offers a $200 cash incentive to people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol to undergo a form of long-term (and often dangerous) birth control or permanent sterilization. Their mission is to "save our welfare system" and the world from the exorbitant cost to the taxpayer for each "drug addicted birth" by offering "effective preventive measures" to reduce the "tragedy" of numerous drug-affected pregnancies.

C.R.A.C.K.’s tactics disproportionately targets poor women, incarcerated women, and women of color. They intentionally advertise in poor neighborhoods and communities of color. They also work with the prison industry to target incarcerated women. C.R.A.C.K.’s approach is dangerous because the use of payment as an incentive to receive birth control undermines the very notion of reproductive choice, drug treatment, and is reminiscent of the Eugenics movement, which had the greatest momentum in the United States (1907-1941). Some of C.R.A.C.K.’s initial billboards read "Don’t let a Pregnancy Ruin Your Drug Habit." C.R.A.C.K.’s strategy is also coercive because it targets people during a significantly vulnerable period due to their chemical addiction, lack of resources, and economic desperation.

The C.R.A.C.K. program is opposed by prominent public health experts and family planning service providers who recognize that years of experience providing contraceptive services throughout the world have demonstrated that coercive programs rarely achieve their goals. The University of California, School of Public Health has published guidelines for the ethical and effective use of incentives in reproductive health programs and policies. It specifically warns against using incentives to further the use of particular contraceptive methods by limiting client choice and against offering cash bonuses to prevent pregnancy (1999). Additionally, studies have shown that women who felt pressure to select a specific method of contraception were more likely to have health problems with the method and less likely to be happy with their decision (Kols AJ, Sherman JE, Piotrow PT. "Ethical Foundations of Client-Centered Care in Family Planning," Journal of Women's Health, 1999, 8(3):303-312).

How do we address drug and alcohol addiction among pregnant and parenting women? Addiction is a treatable disease, but resources devoted to drug and alcohol treatment for women are inadequate. Moreover, addicted pregnant women who seek treatment are often turned away from programs because they are pregnant. Waiting lists are impossibly long, and budgets for treatment programs designed for women have been targeted for cuts. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which funds 40 percent of treatment services, has reduced funding for programs for women by almost 40 percent since 1994. And federal funding for treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum women and their children is now less than 10 percent of what was available in 1995. (Drug Strategies, 1998. Keeping Score. Women and Drugs: Looking at the Federal Drug Control Budget. Washington, DC, p.29)

CWPE supports communities and activists doing grassroots work to stop C.R.A.C.K. in its tracks. Go to our STOP C.R.A.C.K. page for more information about how to organize against C.R.A.C.K. in your neighborhood!