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Posts Tagged ‘project prevention’

Project Prevention have been back in the news lately.

I wrote about this organisation before, here and here, and since then my initial reservations have developed into serious concern and outrage. The more their activities continue, the clearer it becomes that the welfare of people is a secondary priority to their ideology. And this ideology amounts to little more than eugenics.

Stuart Sorensen has been at the front line of the efforts to counter what Project Prevention are doing, and his interview on the most recent episode of the Strange Quarks podcast was excellent. If you still think there’s anything positive or compassionate in the way this group bribes drug addicts to be sterilised, you shouldn’t after listening to that.

Short version: There are much better ways than this to help people and children affected by drug problems, which are already being offered by many health services, but Project Prevention doesn’t seem to care.

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The Liberal Conspiracy website has a better-informed and more thorough discussion of Project Prevention than I managed a few days ago. It’s increasingly clear that this is an organisation driven by a specific ideology, which doesn’t care to examine its own workings enough to question whether what it’s doing is really in its clients’ best interests. This line was especially revealing, referring to the organisation’s founder, Barbara Harris:

Harris’ interest isn’t in the long-term outcomes for the women she works with or the areas they live in. There’s no subsequent monitoring programme and no requirement that addicts sign up for treatment – Project Prevention’s involvement with these women begins and ends with their fertility.

The stated “main objective” of Project Prevention is “to reduce the number of substance exposed births to zero”, and their approach with this goal in mind is unhelpfully single-minded. The plight of infants born to substance-addicted mothers is no doubt awful, but Barbara Harris is fixated on this one solution, to the exclusion of an overall picture of providing treatment and care as best they can, based on what people need, whatever that might involve in any specific case.

No doubt a lot of people with drug problems would benefit from some of the forms of contraception and birth control that Project Prevention can provide, but they’re not looking at it in terms of providing the best and most appropriate care for their clients. As far as they’re concerned, the fertility issue is the beginning and the end.

I hadn’t picked up on the issue of the complete lack of aftercare before, but thinking about it now, this is insane. In the substance misuse centre I work at, there are constant discussions about where clients are going to move onto once their treatment with us is complete, whether medication will be prescribed from somewhere else, whether they have support in the community, whether we could look to arranging housing, whether they’re registered with a local mental health or psychological team to follow them up sporadically in the coming weeks and months.

These are all a big and necessary part of treating anyone for drug addiction, but none of it seems to be on Project Prevention’s radar. It kinda seems like it should be, if you’re going to be performing major operations on people with serious addiction problems.

Oh, and the founder of the organisation, Barbara Harris, has made her Twitter feed private, after some people started tweeting questions about her methods at her. Now, there’s no problem with having a private feed, if you only want your personal friends to be able to follow the thoughts you share on there – a lot of people go that way. But it still purports to be Project Prevention’s official feed, so this doesn’t speak well to Barbara’s approach to openness and outreach.

I hope nobody questioning her was hostile or unpleasant, and made her feel like there was no point listening to people simply being obnoxious. But @DrPetra was among those asking sensible questions of Barbara – whether she wouldn’t try integrating with existing services, for instance – and got accused of condoning child abuse for her trouble.

Speaking of Dr Petra, she just tweeted a link to a report that Canada’s teen birth and abortion rates have plummeted following better sex education and wider access to contraception throughout that country. There’s been more than a one-third decline in ten years, as a direct result of doing exactly the opposite of what the abstinence-only puritans say is best. Just thought that was worth a mention too.

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Here is an advert pointing out the disparity between the Shell oil company’s recent profits, and the humanitarian results of their recent massive oil spill. Here is a statement from Amnesty expressing disappointment that the Financial Times newspaper decided not to run this advert. Here are Naomi McAuliffe’s thoughts.

– I’ve been hearing about Project Prevention a lot lately. They’re an organisation set up to help children born to drug-addicted mothers. The primary way they do this in the US is by offering addicts $300 to receive “long-term contraception”, which in some cases involves a form of sterilisation.

They’re coming to my attention because the woman behind it all, Barbara Harris, has come to the UK recently. And while I’m sure she’s filled with the best of intentions, I do not support this organisation.

I work in a substance misuse treatment centre. One of the nurses in my building is a Pregnancy Liaison, and works closely with a clinic at a local hospital to deal specifically with clients coming to us for treatment who are also pregnant. There are detailed protocols in place for handling this kind of thing, and I’ve typed up many assessments for substance-addicted women detailing their medical and psychiatric condition in the weeks before and after delivering a baby.

My point is that, in the UK, the NHS is kinda on this one already. It’s not totally escaped everyone’s notice that sometimes drug addicts have babies, and those babies might have problems that need medical support. If there’s good reason to support certain kinds of medical intervention to assist with this – such as long-term contraception – then why should this be done entirely independently by someone like Barbara Harris? Why should it not be integrated into the existing infrastructure?

It’s not at all clear that Project Prevention’s approach is based on good science or in their patients’ best interests. The fact that people have to be paid to submit to these treatments surely counts as a red flag that they’re not always the most healthy and sensible thing to do, otherwise why would they need such coaxing? And consider the first thing stated on their website’s page titled “Objectives”:

The main objective of Project Prevention is to reduce the number of substance exposed births to zero.

Maybe I’m being picky about bad writing more than anything else here, but I’d have thought that the main objective of a charitable medical organisation ought to be more along the lines of providing a high quality of support and care to as many patients as possible, rather than simply attempting to completely eradicate a certain type of behaviour.

It’d be like a family planning centre saying that their main objective was to reduce the number of abortions to zero. Sure, a world with no unwanted pregnancies might be a wonderful idea, but the focus of your activities should surely be to provide care where it’s needed.

So yeah. Not comfortable with this at all. The Northern Doctor is far more scathing.

– Nick Clegg gave a speech today about political reform. I’m cynical enough not to be falling over myself until I see some of this actually happening, and it’s disappointing not to see a repeal of the Digital Economy Act mentioned specifically. But hey, maybe something’ll come of it.

– And lastly, go watch my new favourite TED talk ever. This is so awesome. This is so awesome it almost makes me want to be a maths teacher. Seriously, I just love this guy and cannot fathom why he and people like him aren’t basically in charge of everything. Or at least everything to do with maths textbooks. I need to write about fun maths stuff here more often. So much of its unpopularity among kids is down to the dismal way it’s taught, and it’s tragically unfair.

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