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Monday, January 06, 2003
Orwell would be proud
The New York Times reports on a program that offers drug addicts $200 if they agree to get sterilized or use long-term birth control. It seems like a completely unobjectionable program: it's a private program, and hence completely voluntary. And, assuming the program is effective at all -- because if it isn't, why worry about it -- it reduces the number of babies born to drug-addicted parents. Win-win. The recipients benefit, and society benefits.

And yet, the predictable crowd is unhappy with it:
"The program is fundamentally incompatible with a health care policy that respects a woman's right to choose," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "It certainly raises policy concerns for government entities to be providing referrals to this program or endorsing it in any way."
That's such doublespeak that I don't even know where to begin. Offering people a choice is incompatible with the "right to choose?" Huh? There's only one way to interpret that: when she talks about "respecting" a woman's right to choose, she means exactly the opposite: that she has no respect whatsoever for women being able to make choices, and assumes that they'll make the wrong ones if given the opportunity.

And you've got to love the gratuitous invocation of Godwin's law, by the way:
"What she's doing is suggesting there are certain neighborhoods where it is dangerous for some people to be reproducing," said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. "It suggests they are not worthy of reproducing. It is very much like the eugenics history in America. The Nazis said if you just sterilized the sick people and Jews you would improve the economy."
Uh, I could be mistaken, but I seem to recall that the Nazis started a world war and used poison gas as their preferred method of birth control. They didn't pay volunteers $200.

And it may be politically incorrect to say so, but what exactly is wrong with suggesting that drug addicts who are willing to get sterilized for $200 aren't worthy of reproducing? Do we really have to pretend that all people, no matter how irresponsible, make equally good parents? If a woman recognizes that she is not in position to raise a child, and chooses to ensure that this won't happen (and make some money at the same time), is that really something to be upset about?

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