Barbara Harris made Portland one of the first stops on a cross-country mission as head of Project Prevention, a foundation that offers $300 to drug users willing to be sterilized or use long-term birth control, the Oregonian reports. Harris founded her program in 1998. Originally called C.R.A.C.K. — Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity — it immediately attracted attention and criticism. Supporters call Harris a hero. Detractors label her tactics as modern-day eugenics. “I don’t care what anyone says. It’s just not OK to take drugs and have a baby,” she said. “If I got drunk and drove my car and killed someone, I’d get put in jail, and nobody would argue.
Harris, of Harrisburg, N.C., began her quest after adopting four siblings at birth. Their mother was addicted to crack, PCP and heroin. Harris has six biological sons and has been a foster mother to many more. “My critics say I’m a racist,” said Harris, who is white. “Well, my husband’s black, my six boys are biracial and I’m ‘Mom’ to four African American kids. I’m the only white face in my household.” Lynn Paltrow of the New York-based National Advocates for Pregnant Women, calls the program dehumanizing. “Under the guise of openness, ‘voluntary’ choice, and personal empowerment, C.R.A.C.K. not only promotes a vicious image of the ‘eternal drug addict,’ it has won significant support for a program and an ideology that is at the core of civil rights violations and eugenic population control efforts,” she says. Project Prevention (www.projectprevention.org) is a nonprofit organization financed by private investors. Harris said 2,000 women have received payment so far.