Barbara Harris Interview and Project Prevention Update


It took me a while to realise quite why my previous blog about Project Prevention following the BBC Radio 4 interview had received so much attention recently.

Some of the opposers to my comments have been there for a while, but others have come recently to join the party. This is a good thing because more respectful discussion is always helpful.

I wondered why it had been brought to peoples attention though, and looked through the newspapers til I found an answer. Sure enough, my old friend the Daily Mail/Daily Record came to the rescue.

Mum’s fury after being approached in the street and offered £200 to get sterilised

Campaigner demand ban on ‘Nazi’ U.S group offering sterilisation cash offers

BARBARA DAVIES: Should drug addicts be paid to be sterilised?

The story even reached the BBC

Woman offered ‘£200 to be sterilised’

All pretty shocking stuff and bound to cause a reaction. In the BBC report they say they asked the group for an interview but there was no one available for comment.

Really?

It took me about 20 minutes to chase up an email address for Barbara Harris and get a direct quote. I asked her about the incident.

“We did go up to her but before we could get out five words she walked away saying F this F you etc. She had no child with her and lied about everything but cussing us out. The daily mail should be ashamed for printing such crap missleading there readers.”

Over a series of e-mails, I asked her if she felt sorry for the addicts.

“I agree the addicts are victims as well which is why we don’t want them to conceive children that will only be taken from them. That just leads them deeper into their addiction trying to numb the pain of losing another child.

These women don’t want to continue giving birth to children only to lose them. I have spoken to hundreds of these women over the years and they fully support our work.

“Those who oppose our work aren’t adopting any of these children, so how dare they campaign for the addicts right to continue getting pregnant. Just like the US, free birth control is available, but addicts here and there don’t take the time out of their pursuit of drugs to go get it. Offering the incentive gets their attention and they follow through because of the money. If paying someone £200 prevents child abuse there is no better way to spend that money”

So my understanding is that the lady who came out of the hospital was not approached by any of your team, and that the Daily Mail didn’t ask your office for comment.

“No, The Daily Mail did not speak to me until after they ran there trashy story”

Finally I asked her about Chris Brand. Click on the picture of Mr Brand to see what wikipedia think of him. I have been having an interesting and productive discussion with Stuart Sorenson, a mental health nurse and director of a care training and consultancy company.

Stuart has mentioned Chris Brand to me a couple of times, as a “eugenicist and scientific racist” who “advised the project”. He went on to say “It’s little wonder that the Project Prevention focus is essentially black neighbourhoods.”

I cant deny, knowing nothing about Chris Brand, I was concerned, and the media I flicked through didnt look good, so since I had the opportunity, I asked Barbara Harris directly.

“I was just reading something Chris Brand wrote about me which is so untrue. According to him I’m married to a black millionaire ! I don’t know him nor have I ever spoken to him.”

She went on to write

“The Daily Mail in Glasgow printed a story recently that was full of lies. A woman accused us of walking up to her on the streets and offering her money if she got sterilized! I was so angry when I read her lies because I knew many would believe them and judge what we do. First of all in 12 years of doing this we have NEVER walked up to ANYONE even assuming they are addicts which rules out her story right off the bat. We tell people about our work and ask if they know anyone who uses drugs/alcohol that may get pregnant. Then we give them a card to pass along to anyone they may know. The only truth in her story was that she cussed like a truck driver! She had no child with her and was not at the Health Dept. She was talking to a woman who was an obvious addict. The Daily Mail printed her story without talking to us and that was so irresponsible to me. Once trash like that is printed it can never be taken back they should be ashamed, but I’m sure they are not!”

There is a reason why all celebrities and organisations alike have a problem with the british media.

This is what the Guardian said about it following Barbara Harris’ TV appearance on “This Morning”.

For a link to Barbara Harris’ controversial interview with the team from ITV’s This Morning. Click on the ad below

Project Prevention appears to have had some considerably difficult problems launching their campaign. It looks like sponsors wanting to promote Project Prevention in the UK have had concerns about adverse publicity, and so they have dropped the idea of sterilisation from their UK program, but are still offering very long term contraception. As far as I can see this watered-down version of the original project should receive much less criticism, and could well be considerably more appropriate for the UK market.

I am happy for this move. It is a considerate compromise to a country that already does try to support drug addicts out of their addiction and back into society via the NHS, social care, social security payments, housing benefits, and a variety of other benefits. They are victims of our sick society, and offering them long term contraception will allow them time to come to terms with their problems whilst easing the burden on society. If there is an argument here, perhaps it should be that this form of contraception should be encouraged by the NHS itself instead of via a private organisation.

There is still a question as to whether an addict is really able to decide if he or she should have long term contraception. I’m a little fed up with this argument. For one, the addict decided to try the drugs in the first place. Millions pf people decided not to try them, not to get hooked, not to abuse their society by commiting petty and sometimes serious crime.

And for two, arguing if someone is mentally capable of doing or not doing something has to be fraught with danger. I used to smoke, was I mentally incapable of potentially getting cancer? Should the state force me to give up via ridiculously high taxation? Should my free health care be withdrawn because I smoke? If an addict is NOT mentally capable to make a choice to get long term contraception then how is he/she mentally capable of looking after a small baby? At some point we have to say that our mental health is no longer a factor. That we have to act in the interests of society rather than the interests of one initially selfish individual.

The campaign against Barbara Harris however, has been personal, misinformed and dismissive. Her ideas may well be different and a little scary, but I have read a lot of very unjust arguments against her, by campaigners who simply don’t understand her motivations or even the extent of her plans.

What has happened to this country where we can be so unfairly abusive? What right do the newspapers have to make up lies and trash people’s reputation just for the benefit of selling a few thousand copies? And what kind of people are we to buy and read and believe the rubbish they say?


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~ by eggplantinspace on June 15, 2010.

17 Responses to “Barbara Harris Interview and Project Prevention Update”

  1. Before i launch into my anti-life rant: Only those who prove themselves worthy and able to bring up the next generation should be allowed to breed. The country is being brought to its knees by the cost of benefits and kids, so why let it get worse.

    What’s so special about creating more FUCKING LIFE anyway??????

    To paraphrase Sade’s views on life: We’re born, we eat, we shit, we fuck, we kill and then when we die.

    My own view on the miracle of life: Picture some blocked sewer, blocked with used tampons toilet paper and shit, and some rats fucking on this disgusting pile-up. The rats will breed, and their descendants will procreate in similar places. This will probably go on for ever, give or take; THAT IS THE MIRACLE OF LIFE.

    LOVE AND HUGS, HANDSOME PADDY xoxoxoxoxoxoxxoxo

  2. Its the first time I have heard of this project. I think you have made a very good point. You have written the post wonderfully.
    I think there are too many people who would prefer to ignore the serious problem rather than do something about it. The real problem is that the adoption services are simply not good enough, thats why we end up going down this path, because something is better than nothing.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Very nice site!

  4. Barbara Harris Interview and Project Prevention Update…

    I found your entry interesting so I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  5. I totally agree. It’s right that someone is making a difference. These children are brought up with no one to care for them, and thats just wrong.

  6. Barbara Harris Interview and Project Prevention Update…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  7. I had to see past her insults and ignore the impugnations BH made about my motivations to get so far as I did which was far from what I’d call engagement.

    I think the difference was that you were not challenging her. It seems very difficult to get BH to engage in a rational way. This does not mean that I’m attacking her – that’s not my way of doing things.

    I’m simply stating a fact. Try asking her hard questions about duty of care for example and see how easy she is to engage with.

    The UK counterpart, Sara Stocks seems much more reasonable and rational though. Perhaps it’s a cultural difference.

    Cheers,
    Stuart

    • I am marrying an american this year, and I can assure you they are much more blunt than we are. It takes a little getting used to, I can’t deny.
      And Barbara Harris and her family have had an awful lot of abuse, so her defenses are definitely up.

      I see no reason when seeking information, be it as a supporter, a protester or as an impartial journalist, as to why there is a need to be confrontational unless you are looking to upset people for a reaction. The Daily Mail’s approach to print an unconfirmed story and then look for a comment is most definitely confrontational, and also totally unneccessary.

      It would not surprise me that she chooses not to communicate with you. You are very unlikely to be convinced, and only bloggers have time to argue for the sake of arguing. A newspaper, however, should have no trouble at all getting in touch. And it is the Daily Record/Daily Mail I take issue with here.

      • That makes less sense when you realise that she approached me to begin with and then didn’t engage when I Emailed back.

        I can assure you that, although I asked serious questions I am not arguing anything for the sake of it and I most certainly was not insulting or confrontational. Challenging – yes. Confrontational – no.

        Congratulations on your impending wedding by the way.

        Cheers,

        Stuart

        • Yes, reading back I do imply you were confrontational. I apologise, I didn’t mean to.

          Having had conversations with you on here I have found you to be polite and respectful and also challenging. I am arguing that the Mail were confrontational when they didnt need to be, and they used their devisive approach to get the “No Comment” from Barbara Harris implying guilt.

          In her interview on Radio 4, she covered many aspects of her approach including duty of care.

          Barbara Harris on Radio 4

          As I said, this kind of debate is more for us bloggers. You have been very determined, and thats good, so I am sure nothing she could say will be able to persuade you. I am also sure she is not really worried about that. Her focus is these children who are born addicted, and pained, and desperate, and unloved.

          I think there is a more important duty of care to these babies, and these children, than to the mothers who have had a chance to choose what kind of life they have.

  8. I was thinking more about the lady with the broken arm. It seems unlikely that, in the state she was in, she approached Harris. In fact Harris apparently thanked the addict for letting them talk to her.

    That’s what I meany when I said it’s clear.

    You’re quite right about the man though – that was different.

    Cheers,

    Stuart

    • Well the lady with the broken arm is described as “so high she can hardly speak”.

      Barbara Harris said she never approaches anyone assuming they are addicts. She hands out leaflets to everyone, regardless of whether they are addicts. At no stage in the story does it say she approached the addict.

      To be honest, I think the reporter was fair with the facts even though she concludes against Barbara Harris. I suspect she would have taken advantage of any trace of coersion if there had been some.
      Instead, this was, in my opinion, notably omitted.

      I do think that sometimes we want proof to be there even when it isn’t. I also think that the Daily Mail in particular have a habit of taking half truths and turning them into Daily Mail facts.

  9. It’s interesting that BH told you that they don’t approach drug addicts directly but the Guardian article from this week seems to be saying quite the opposite. And this is written by the reporter who accompanied her on her trip to Glasgow.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/jun/12/barbara-harris-sterilise-drug-addicts-alcoholics

    Interesting times we live in eh?

    Cheers,

    Stuart

    • Actually Mrs Harris says…

      “First of all in 12 years of doing this we have NEVER walked up to ANYONE even assuming they are addicts” and also says…

      “We tell people about our work and ask if they know anyone who uses drugs/alcohol that may get pregnant. Then we give them a card to pass along to anyone they may know.”

      In the Guardian report, it is clear that she is handing out fliers, when the addict comes by, There appears to be no automatic assumption of addiction. “James”, offers the information that he is a drug addict after her initial exchange.

      It is clear the Guardian report doesn’t in fact say the opposite. In the end though this is a minor point in a far more important debate.

  10. Thankyou. It has become a very rare thing for anyone in favour of Project Prevention to write anything next to my name that doesn’t involve personal insults or invitations to become sterilised myself.

    I’d advise you to look a little deeper into Chris Brand’s involvement. Also please understand that one of the reasons why so many professionals haven’t spoken to Barbara Harris is because she has ‘blocked’ nearly all of them and instead of engaging in discussion makes allegations about supporting child abuse.

    BH did engage briefly in Email discussion with me but didn’t answer any of my actual concerns. The UK director of PP has also Emailed me but has not as yet said anything of substance regarding my concerns about the philosophical, legal and clinical issues surrounding this project. At least she hasn’t insulted me yet though. That’s a bonus.

    Cheers,

    Stuart

    • I see no reason we can’t have a reasonable respectful debate about Project Prevention and the issues surrounding it.

      In the last two months, however I have read a number of extremely abusive ignorant replies that if I took any notice of, I would have done much worse than sterilised myself. Let’s just agree that, clearly people on both sides of the argument can be equally as petty and rude, and we will just have to ignore them.

      The british national newspapers, the Daily Mail in particular, have a reputation of looking for scary angles, and also of creative journalism. Is it not surprising that they should write and publish their story before asking for comment, and isn’t it also not surprising that when they will write what they want anyway, you are better off not taking their call. And yet, I found it so easy, with a little courtesy and respect to get in touch. The fact that The Guardian, got an interview, and that you yourself, were able to have some debate with her, shows how easy it could have been for the Daily Mail.

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