Helping: You’re Doin’ It Wrong

The article making it’s way around Facebook today brings to light two important issues: First, the Catholic Church is a haven of hypocrisy that doesn’t actually give any flying fucks about the sanctity of life or the plight of the disadvantaged (duh); secondly, women are just like dogs that need to be spayed so they can’t multiply. Oh, don’t forgot how EASY it is to get into rehab facilities! There’s no access or overcrowding problem at all, women just refuse to utilize them!

This sounds so hyperbolic, I know. But really, there just isn’t any need for hyperbole when it comes to the organization that calls itself “Project Prevention”, a non-profit that pays addicts cash for undergoing sterilization or IUD insertion. Their website bends over backwards to paint themselves in an altruistic and benevolent light in order to sugarcoat the very questionable ethics of their ‘work’; they resist the accusations of modern-day eugenics. Yet, not only do their Facebook updates nastily hint at their disgust for the “druggies” they prey on – or, as I like to refer to them, drug-addicted systemically disadvantaged human beings existing below the poverty level that our society loves to vilify, but mainly just HUMAN BEINGS – founder Barbara Harris wants to make it very clear that she is not even remotely concerned about the women she bribes (11:14 in). She even goes so far in defending her bribery as to propagate the favorite conservative myth that these women already have access to free contraception but just refuse to utilize it. This is not and has never been the case in the United States. Some people in some areas can find free birth control, yes – not only is it NOT available in most areas, when it is available it’s mostly in the form of The Pill; not the IUD or tubal ligation, which are the only two options Barbara deems appropriate for those nasty crack smokin’ whores.

She also insists that a huge number of drug addicted women have “litters” of babies (Get it? The ‘bitches’ have litters! Haha?) despite the fact that 1. Women who use drugs, statistically speaking overall, have about the same amount of children as women who do not, and 2. These women are not birthing 3-12 babies at a time, as the word “litter” would imply.

When Barbara’s inflated and misleading anecdotal ‘evidence’ is called out, she appears not to even understand or comprehend the fact that her rhetoric is harmfully overblown and ignorant. Well, actually, I suppose that’s a bit unfair… she may indeed understand, but her ideology of addicts being nothing more than trash with no human worth whatsoever will not allow her to admit it. She appears to hold great disdain for science in general, repeatedly brushing off statistical research and medical studies as unworthy of even a moments consideration. (With that attitude, it should come as no surprise that her group is being supported and funded by the right wing, specifically Richard Mellon Scaife, a millionaire donor to conservative causes.) No, she’d rather continue waving cash under the noses of diseased individuals, who – depending on their current fix or lack of one on that particular day – are more often than not incapable of making fully informed decisions about their future. Throw cash at ’em, send them off to buy MORE DRUGS, who cares if they go off and overdose and die! They’re just incubators for the BBZ, after all. Right?

Look. Infants that experience side effects due to prenatal exposure to toxins of any kind? It is heartbreaking. My stomach is twisted into knots just thinking about it. It’s cruel, it’s unnecessary, and I don’t begrudge anyone who is upset at this occurrence. It is the very definition of upsetting! Children are to be protected, yes! But. Babies in withdrawal? This is not some epidemic as Project Prevention would have you believe. The “crack baby” myth was (and still is) an incredibly overblown media scare tactic with racist undertones. We don’t see nearly as much publicity and panic about the use of tobacco and/or alcohol use during gestation, despite the fact that these two substances are actually more likely to negatively impact fetal development. It’s discouraged and judged, for sure – we love dragging pregnant women through the mud for everything from drinking coffee to eating lunch meat – but not nearly to the same extent. Where are all the sensational headlines and the panicked white journalists? Where’s the rabid media frenzy? What is the difference between these two substances and crack, when it comes to pregnant users? Statistically speaking, the amount of women smoking cigarettes during pregnancy is double that of women who use crack. But crack users are more likely to be women of color – making an easy scapegoat for race-baiting assholes to continue the narrative of black women as “jezebels”, “savages”, as mere animals who are just plain “inferior”… despite the fact that white women were found more likely overall to abuse substances during their pregnancy. But eh, Barbara isn’t really interested in any of this. It would interfere with her tiny little black and white world view, and we can’t have that!

Watching her defend this organization, you can almost see the internalized misogyny dripping from her every word. I’d pity her, if the only person she was hurting was herself. But she is voluntarily participating in and encouraging a mythical societal narrative that frames every woman who has ever struggled with addiction, especially moms, as street trash.

This is not the answer. I am all for sterilization and long term birth control for women (and men!) who wish to utilize it – I adamantly believe that all forms of birth control should be freely available on demand. I’m a strong supporter of universal healthcare, period. I am absolutely revolted that an entire program exists to bribe people into these (sometimes permanent) decisions when this time and money could – SHOULD – be spent on increasing access and funding for treatment. Recovery IS possible. Addicts, in general, are NOT some lost cause. They’re still fucking human beings; they’re someone’s child, sister, cousin and yes, sometimes they are even someone’s mother.

Barbara likes to insist, when criticized, that the women she bribes aren’t interested in getting clean. She likes to insist that most aren’t interested in any treatment at all and that they even turn down offers made to them by the hospitals they birth in, over and over. As if there are empty rehab facilities just around the block, and hospital staff simply isn’t able to convince these women to check in. Bullshit. These facilities are always full. There’s almost always a waiting list, sometimes the wait is even longer than a year. In the majority of addictions, professional guidance is imperative to getting clean. This country simply, literally, does not have enough clinics and professionals to go around. Maybe we can work on that, instead?

Now, that’s an objective I could get behind.

Please support National Advocates For Pregnant Women in their mission to combat harmful stereotypes about addicts who are mothers, as well as protecting the human rights of all pregnant women, no matter their circumstance.

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Prevention First! Round 2

The petition to demand reasonable and swift action against misinformation in sexual education programs and lack of preventative care for survivors of assault has been re-launched. Instead of Change.org, this one is hosted on SignOn.org in the hopes that we get some promotion from the progressive action group MoveOn.org. Both bills are currently stuck in committee, and this petition not only targets all Ohio legislators to take action, it also sends separate individual email alerts to the House and Senate Committee Chairs in an effort to get these bills to the floor for a vote.

This isn’t the first time that these Prevention First bills have been introduced, as Sen. Turner and Rep. Antonio discuss in this February interview. In the past, Prevention was left to languish in committee without ever even receiving a vote. Considering the “concern” our Republican controlled legislature has demonstrated about our lady-parts, you’d think they’d be ecstatically enthusiastic about legislation that would not only reduce the number of Ohio’s unintended pregnancies (thereby reducing abortion) but would save taxpayers money in a time of economic hardship. It’s common knowledge now that every dollar invested in helping women avoid unintended pregnancies saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures, that otherwise would have been used for maternity care.

In order to hold our elected officials accountable, in order to force them to do their jobs of representing the best interest of Ohio residents, we need to push them. The Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act (SB 283/HB 419) and The Act for Our Children’s Future (SB 232/HB 338) will forever languish in committee if our officials feel they can get away with ignoring the needs of those most vulnerable in our society: our youth and our survivors of assault.

Please add your signature now, share this petition on your social networking accounts, and consider placing a phone call to the Committee Chairs, whose names can be found at the petition site. Or just use your zip code to find your Legislators, and give them a call.

Ohio deserves a fair shot at Prevention.

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Have you registered for the upcoming Lobby Day this Wednesday? NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio are working together to combat the War on Women!

If you can’t make it, don’t worry – you can still help Ohio women access their constitutional right to reproductive care by donating to the Cleveland Pro-Choice Escorts bowling team HERE.