Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review July 30, 1999 /17 Av, 5759

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Tony Snow
Michael Barone
Mort Kondracke
Kathleen Parker
Dr. Laura
Michael Kelly
Bob Greene
Michelle Malkin
Paul Greenberg
David Limbaugh
David Corn
Marianne Jennings
Sam Schulman
Philip Weiss
Mort Zuckerman
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Chris Matthews
Nat Hentoff
Larry Elder
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Don Feder
Linda Chavez
Mona Charen
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Ben Wattenberg
Bruce Williams
Dr. Peter Gott
Dian Vujovich
Ed Blonz
Consumer Reports
Weekly Standard


It's not about race -- it's about crack babies --
YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD about the "racist "sterilization program that bribes addled drug addicts -- primarily black women -- to submit to birth control in exchange for a free fix.

Well, not quite. Yet one might infer this from a story by the Associated Press that appeared last week in newspapers across the country.

The story told of a privately funded California program "making its way across the country" (like the plague?) that "pays $200 to drug-addicted women to get their tubes tied," drawing "the wrath of critics who call it shortsighted, racist and a source of drug money for users."

Ho-hum. Another day in the life of knee-jerks and half-truths. Would you like to know what the program really does?

I know a little about this story and the woman who single-handedly started this program, as I'm one of the original cheerleaders for Barbara Harris -- heroine, angel and founder of C.R.A.C.K. (Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity).

Harris, who has adopted four drug-exposed infants, started C.R.A.C.K. in 1997 in response to a system that had failed. Noting that crack-addicted women continued to give birth -- and that "the system" wasn't doing anything to stop the cycle -- Harris put on her thinking cap.

What would motivate these women to change their behavior? A lecture? A lovely new Aprica stroller? A year's supply of diapers? Or, might these drug addicts appreciate a little cash? Bingo, as they say.

Harris started offering men and women $200 to seek permanent birth control -- vasectomies for men and either a tubal ligation, a Norplant patch, an epidermal patch that prevents pregnancy for up to five years, or an intrauterine device (IUD) for women.

All voluntary. Clients, only women thus far, collect the money when they present a doctor's letter saying they've received some form of long-term birth control.

"Yes, but, (sputter, sputter), Ms. Harris, aren't you in a sense bribing these women to get birth control?"

Absolutely! Talk about genius.

Harris doesn't coerce, she advertises. The women come to her. Since 1997, Harris has paid 57 women, who, combined, had given birth 262 times. That's an average of 4.5 babies each. All babies who, were it not for people like Harris, might languish in foster care for years, never developing into the bright children most drug-exposed children can become with early intervention, love and proper care.

Thanks to Harris, four such babies are flourishing in her home. All four came from a single mother, who had had eight drug-exposed babies at last count.

Of course Harris has critics. Moses himself had critics.

Constance Jackson, president of a health clinic that serves poor patients on Chicago's South Side, wondered in the AP story whether C.R.A.C.K. would be popular were most drug-addicted babies white.

The answer is yes. This isn't about race; it's about children born damaged and hopeless. In fact, of the women treated so far, 25 are white, 10 Hispanic and 22 African-American.

Harris is white but her four adopted children are black, as is Harris' husband. If Harris is considered racist, we may as well give up.

Meanwhile, until every American adopts an infant born to a drug-addicted mother, I have but two words for Barbara Harris: Thank you.

Which is what the crack addicts say, too.

JWR contributor Kathleen Parker can be reached by clicking here.


07/22/99: Tragedy tells us what's important
07/19/99: Study denouncing fathers sends danger signals
07/15/99:'Happy marriage' belongs in the Dictionary of Oxymorons next to 'deliciously low-fat.'
07/11/99: 'Brother Man': An American demagogue in Paris
07/08/99: Only parents can fix broken families
07/06/99: America is home, sweet home
07/01/99: Tales out of Yuppiedom
06/28/99: Men aren't the only abusers
06/23/99: Is the entire country guzzling LSD punch?
06/20/99: The voice remains -- as always -- there beside me 06/16/99:Stating the obvious, a new growth industry
06/14/99: Calling for a cease-fire in the gender war
06/10/99: We owe children an apology

©1999, Tribune Media Services