ATLANTA – In its campaign to stem the growing tide of drug-addicted babies, the group Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity (C.R.A.C.K.) has taken the controversial step of paying drug addicts not to reproduce.
From one of its 19 offices in Garden Grove, Calif., C.R.A.C.K. doles out checks worth $200 each to drug and alcohol addicted men and women.
Applicants have the option of choosing either sterilization or long-term birth control. If an applicant doesn't have insurance, the group taps its source of private donations to pay for the necessary medical procedures.
"We mail them the forms. They take it to their local doctor or clinic, get it filled out, telling us what type of long-birth control they chose," said C.R.A.C.K. founder Barbara Harris.
"We verify the information to make sure that it is true, and that they did get it, then we send them their money."
Critics describe the program as a cheap bribe, a method of coercion that disregards drug treatment and one that dehumanizes people who are already suffering.
"Labeling a certain group of people as not deserving of reproducing the human race ... that's very close to saying that those particular people are not deserving of being regarded as fully human," said Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
The 455 women who have taken part in the C.R.A.C.K. program numbered, collectively, more than 2500 pregnancies.
National statistics show that more than 700,000 drug-addicted babies are born every year — about 200 every day — costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in healthcare expenses.
It is out of this number that C.R.A.C.K. culls some of its most successful marketing tools — videotapes of doctors fighting to save the lives of babies born addicted to drugs.
But founder Barbara Harris defends her group's tactics, including the money.
"200 dollars to prevent a child from being abused to me is the best 200 dollars that we could possibly spend."