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Prevention or eugenics? This group pays addicts to get on long-term birth control or sterilized



HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (CIRCA via WCHS/WVAH) — There is a new recreational vehicle in town, a mobile billboard that will have many taking a second look.

It's part of an effort by a North Carolina woman who has made her way to West Virginia. She is on a mission to reduce the number of babies born addicted by offering long-term birth control or sterilization to drug addicts.

"All of the women who have participated in our program have had two to 15 abortions each," Barbara Harris said.

Harris founded Project Prevention, a nonprofit aimed at limiting the amount of drug-addict babies being born.

"I started the organization after adopting four of eight children born to a Los Angeles drug addict," Harris said.

Harris pays $300 to women and men addicted to drugs or alcohol to use long-term birth control, including the option for sterilization.

"We don't encourage anybody to get sterilized. Those who have chosen to get sterilized did so after having three to 13 children each first," Harris said.

Sherry Sission Harris of Huntington reached out to Harris after her own battle of addiction.

"I've seen women using up until they're in labor," Sisson Harris said.

Despite the criticism, she believes this will only help those dealing with substance abuse.

"If you want to get high, trust me you're going to find the money. It's not like she's handing out money immediately, this is a process, you have to prove you're an addict, you have to go to the doctor," Sisson Harris said.

Barbara Harris plans to drive around Huntington and Charleston with signs and speak to those addicted.

"It bothers me that some people focus more on the fact that the woman is going to get paid to get birth control than they do on the fact of what happens if she doesn't," Harris said.

Harris said in the end it's about the children and stands by her way of dealing with the problem.

"I say to those who criticize what we do if you feel that strongly that these women should continue to have children, then you need to step up and adopt a few because if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem," Harris said.

To be considered, potential clients must provide some evidence of active addiction.

Harris said so far they have helped more than 7,000 people across the country.

The campaign continues Monday in Huntington and will head to Charleston on Tuesday.


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