Free Money Program Targets DC Drug Addicts

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - A group that pays drug addicts to use birth control with $200 rewards is taking its campaign to Washington, DC this weekend as the nation's capital becomes the newest incubator for a plan to reduce pregnancies among drug addicted women.

Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity, otherwise known as CRACK, has already paid 240 women throughout the United States up to $200 each for agreeing to undergo long-term birth control methods, including Norplant and tubal ligation. In at least one case, a man has received money through the program for having a vasectomy.

"If they choose to use the $200 to go buy drugs that's their choice," said Barbara Harris, founder of the organization. "But the babies don't have choices."

CRACK, which has aimed its advertising at individual cities including Phoenix, Los Angeles and Oakland, will spread its message across the Washington area with 500 advertisements on city busses beginning Saturday. Harris said it will be the biggest campaign yet for the organization and hopes it will help women in the city and capture the attention of Congress, propelling the issue into the national spotlight.

Harris said involving Members of Congress is important to advancing the cause of CRACK. "They are the ones that can truly make a difference to this problem," said Harris. Congress adjourned Friday for the Fourth of July holiday, with most members leaving early in the day. Congress is scheduled to reconvene July 10. Harris said the ads are expected to run for about a month.

The advertisement for the program says "If you are addicted to drugs/alcohol, get birth control - Get cash." The idea makes some cringe because it puts free money in the hands of women who are drug and alcohol abusers, and in some cases prostitutes.

"It's actually paying women to be more irresponsible," said Wendy Wright, director of communications for the Concerned Women for America in Washington DC.

Wright said the program "cultures an irresponsible behavior" by giving those caught up in the lifestyle of drugs and promiscuity a reason to continue. "It opens the door for more abuse against women," Wright said.

Because CRACK is a non-profit organization, most of the advertising space will be paid for with tax dollars. Harris argued that the $7,000 cost of the ad campaign is small compared to the cost of caring for children born to drug addicted women. The children often have birth defects or are turned over to foster homes, according to Harris.

Harris said her office receives calls daily from women across the country who want to get money from the program. One client is quoted on the CRACK Internet web site as saying she wishes she would have known about the program earlier, before giving birth to 14 babies.

Some question the wisdom of using money to prompt a particular behavior, especially one involving the personal responsibility of having a child. And while dozens of other women offer similar testimonials on the CRACK page, Harris said it's not a campaign to push personal morality but rather to save unwanted babies from being born.

"Even if I had enough money to do anything I wanted to, birth control would be at the top of my list," Harris said.