Monday, October 18, 2010

Voluntary Sterilization

Mood: Bleh
Listening to: MTV music videos

I was watching BBC today and heard a story about a charity group in England that is offering drug addicts/chronic drunks about $300 dollars to undergo voluntary sterilization. Eh, what? I had to sit a while and consider what exactly it was that I thought about this.  The conclusion that I agree with was that I agree with some of what they are doing, but I still have too many problems with the process to be for it.

On one side of the coin, babies need loving stable homes, which are very unlikely to be provided by self admitted chronic drug and/or alcohol abusers. Taking away the ability to have a baby will definitely eliminate the chance of an accident – after all, drugs and alcohol abuse aren’t conducive to being responsible with anything, including sexuality. Babies of chronic drug and alcohol users are also more likely to be born with lifelong problems – see crack babies and fetal alcohol syndrome. Addicts are also not being forced – this is a voluntary process and there is compensation involved.
Let’s dig apart the negatives of the issue one at a time.
  1. Sexuality and the ability to procreate have a defined impact on a person’s psych and sense of identity. Is this really a good change to be offering someone whose mind is altered by chemical substances? Would we offer this choice to mentally or physically handicapped persons? We tried that in an involuntary process years ago and decided that it was just wrong. In a similar vein, how can we propagandize this idea to people who may not grasp the long term consequences of such a heavy decision?
  2.  The latest buzz in alcohol and drug addiction is, contrary to popular belief, that it is a disease. There have been, and hopefully will continue to be, many people who successfully recover.  The person in the throes of this disease may not see a recovery for him or herself at that moment that may come at a later date. What happens when they successfully recover and realize that they have made a huge mistake? With a clear mind, children may seem much more important. There are plenty of addicts that have had their children taken away by DCFS or a similar organization only to get their life back together so that they can care for their children.
  3.  Is someone’s fertility only worth $300?  I understand that the organization may not have unlimited funds, but to a person desperate for more of the problem substance, the short term benefit may overshadow any actual thought about the long term consequences. It seems to me to be a very, very small amount to make up for the loss of any chance at having children one day – even if the person thinks they don’t want any. This too may be subject to time and a change in the addiction. 
  4. I think the thing that offends me most about this idea is that it takes a mercenary, one type fits all, solution to a very difficult situation. I’m not a big fan of an organization touting a quick, cheap solution that solves a problem, but doesn’t take into consideration the needs of the individuals. A big part of this that I don’t agree with is that it is a PERMANENT solution. We have so many birth control options, including IUD’s that only have to be changed every 5 years. Wouldn’t the money being thrown at this situation be better used to council women and men at risk to use a form of birth control that doesn’t need a prescription or constant monitoring? We already have Planned Parenthood doing along the same lines. Planned Parenthood also provides abortion counseling and services should an accident occur. I’m not a big fan of abortion, but I feel there are situation when it would be the best answer in a bad situation. Sterilization is just too broad and heavy a club to wield for this situation.

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