"A view from within" (although one might be tempted to ask within what dark hole) has recently published a post which seeks to deal seriously with the matter of child abuse. To read it, one gets the picture that society is absolutely rife with dysfunctional families.
There are 15 year old girls that deliberately get pregnant so that they can get themselves housed by either the housing trusts or the Housing department. They drink and smoke to excess during the pregnancy. Many of these girls cannot cope then with being mothers because they do not have the skills needed. Some babies suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome, the baby suffers health issues because the mother smokes, does not know how to cook and all food comes out of an Iceland box, how to keep a place clean, how to use a washing machine and these girls remain dependent on Income Support for years and years because they keep having babies. This is child abuse big time. However, it is accepted in our society and therefore nothing is done about it. What of the fathers, these sperm donors, these pillars of Jersey society that produce four different children by four different mothers? They are easy to spot in town. Many of them wear the hoodie uniform, most of them smoke and drink heavily, many are unemployable and a great many share one
Having painted a picture reminiscent in a fashion worthy of Hieronymus Bosch, the same blogger goes on to attack Social Services in a big way. I wonder if Deputy Ann Pryke would concur, and if she did, what she would have done about it? Perhaps the anoymous "view" should send her a copy of their critique by email? Of course, they'd then have to reveal themselves, and that wouldn't do!
Some Social Services people think there is some good in these parents and that they can be changed. We spend an absolute fortune on these Social Services people and the results are mixed. Social Services people do not have to live on the same estate or block of flats as these people. These are the people that kick off on housing estates and in blocks of flats that are a nightmare to live close to.
I also wonder why if fetal alcohol syndrome is such a major issue that it has never been the subject of comment in Hansard, and gets just one mention by Dr Rosemary Geller, the Medical Officer of Health in the 2007 Annual Report, when she wrote that (in general terms, with no specific statistics cited) that excessive alcohol could cause:
reproductive problems - in men, temporary erectile impotence and longer-term loss of potency, shrinking testes and penis and reduced sperm count. In women the menstrual cycle can be disrupted, it may increase the risk of miscarriage and can result in low birth-weight babies, birth defects and fetal alcohol syndrome.
The solution recommended from "the view from within" is contraception, which is offered at a price.
In the great State of Texas, they have come up with an incentive to slow down the rate of teenage pregnancies, especially among the Hispanic community. They offer the girls $1000 in cash to consent to a 5 year contraceptive injection. This States member wonders if it would be acceptable here, because one can hear now the howls about civil rights from one part of the Assembly. You are taking away their rights or you are interfering in the civil liberties. The test is this. Do not have a baby unless you are working, have some income and a partner that loves you.
A comment, apparently by the same writer, goes even further:
An incentivised sterilisation programme would save the tax paying public millions of pounds a year. These families are not going to generate offspring with greater aspirations than their recidivistic and unmotivated parents, so the State should take steps to reduce the burden at source. It might sound harsh, and I am not expounding sterilation[sic] to the exclusion of all procreation. Before all the tree-huggers and human rights exponents start gnashing teeth I am not promoting a eugenics programme, merely a means of offering choices to those who make a connection of more offspring equalling more money.
This has not just happened in Texas, it happened in India, in 1966 when the Indian government bowed to pressure from the Ford Foundation, the UN and the World Bank and unveiled a program of cash incentives people who agreed to be sterilized or inserted with an IUD. The Kahnna study demonstrated that after five years, the birth rate of those provided with contraceptives was higher than that of the control group. It was also noted that more boys were being born than girls. Clearly, poor women were using the incentives as a means, not of family planning in a Western sense, but for planning to discriminate against females being born, and taking up on the offer to limit families after they had enough male children. As one report noted this further increased the marginalization of poor women, and led to a result which the planners had not indented - continuance of high fertility combined with sex-specific mortality in order to have more sons, a factor which also plays out with abortion statistics.
There is also Project Prevention, a North Carolina charity that gives cash payments to drug addicts who undergo sterilization or start on long-term birth control, which is opening a "U.K. Chapter".
In fact, despite what "a view from within" suggests, it is essentially a form of eugenics. Although it appears to be non-coercive, if you are offering money, it's coercion for those who need money, trading off their human rights against their economic status. In a situation of poverty and deprivation, this may seem like a good trade-off, but it is a form of coercion, none the less. As one of the critics of Project Prevention has noted:
In the C.R.A.C.K. sterilization program, women are improperly coerced by cash incentives during a time in their lives when they are addicted to drugs and therefore clearly vulnerable. Consent obtained through cash coercion does not constitute voluntary or informed consent. Consequently, C.R.A.C.K.'s program is not only unethical but may be illegal in so far as it has decimated the foundation for informed consent.
Another criticism is that this is little different from cash incentives for the sake of organs:
At its core, this program invites people to sell their reproductive capacity, and that like the sale of organs, sex, and children, selling the ability to reproduce should be outlawed as a matter of public policy.
In an article in the Journal of Law in Society, Lynn Paltrow notes that:
Instead of research, legitimate data, and honest inquiries, C.R.A.C.K. too often presents anecdotes, false information and horrific images of bad women who not only do not deserve to have children, but also do not deserve any form of compassion or support. As Assata Zerai and Rae Banks argue, this kind of "dehumanizing discourse" has a significant influence on public policy responses
I'll let the reader decide how far the "view from within" presents a dehumanizing discouse.
Even if we ignore this, there are considerable practical difficulties. How are applicants for the scheme considered? Is it just cash, no questions asked, and available to all women? Can the taxpayer afford the cost of many women opting for this as a cheap alternative to having to pay for their own contraception? If it was only for five years, there could be a considerable take-up. But if there is discrimination, apart from cash, isn't this a kind of eugenic programme, limiting the breeding of an underclass in society? Would the medical profession agree to conduct this, and see it as a "free choice"?
And finally, would politicians be prepared to face a backlash from their own Churches? The blog asks for people to report any cases to Jackie Hilton, Kevin Lewis, Jim Perchard, Ben Shenton, Graeme Butcher, Terry Le Main, Sean Power, Eddie Noel and Anne Pryke. Of those, Ben Shenton and Sean Power (along with Senator Terry Le Sueur) would almost certainly endorse the Catholic Church's teaching against contraception. Whether one agrees with the Catholic church on that or not, I am not sure that the politicians in question would like to be associated with or supported in their efforts against "ruinously bad parents" by a blog that advocates "incentivised sterilisation" and presents it in such simplistic terms, providing a stereotyped scapegoat for societies ills, in the "bad parent".
It is easy to look for scapegoats, as the history of the last thousand years shows only too well, and to pin the blame for all kinds of social factors on them. This particular kind of scapegoating has a kind of class determinism to it, the underclass of bad parents and "feral children" must be restricted from breeding, or they will produce more of the same. It may justify itself as non-coercive because it offers cash inventives, but the intention is virtually the same as that given by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.
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