Contemporary Population Control Discourse

In October 2005, William Bennett (former US Secretary of Education) suggested to his radio talk show audience that”if you wanted to reduce crime…if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every Black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.”

Though Bennett cautioned that actually aborting all African American babies “would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do” to him it remained clear that “the crime rate would go down.” (Ross 2006: 57)

Another face of the continuing population control discourse and its impact on women of color is the cash-incentive program Project Prevention, formerly known as CRACK (Children Requiring A Caring Komunity).

Project Prevention pays women with substance abuse problems $200 cash on receipt of documentation that they have been sterilized or are using long-term birth control such as Norplant, Depo-Provera or an IUD. This thriving privately funded non-profit organization was founded in 1997 by homemaker Barbara Harris, a white woman from Stanton, California who said,

“We don’t allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children.”

In order to find “clients” Project Prevention places large billboard advertisements in black and Latino communities offering to pay $200 in exchange for consent to sterilization. Signs read:

  • “Don’t Let A Pregnancy Ruin Your Drug Habit.”
  • “If You Are Addicted To Drugs, Get Birth Control-Get $200 Cash.”

Project Prevention also finds “clients” by offering an extra $50 for referrals of other substance abusing women, and distributing materials and pamphlets to foster parents, police, social workers, probation officers, hospital workers, church leaders and others who “may know someone who is taking drugs.” As of October 15, 2007, Project Prevention has found 2,269 “clients” (2242 women and 27 men).


Project Prevention. 2007. “The Reasons: Statistics.” Project Prevention: Children Requiring a Caring Community. Available online: <; Accessed on: November 25, 2007.

Ross, Loretta J. 2006. “The Color of Choice: White Supremacy and Reproductive Justice” pp. 53-65 in Color of Violence: the INCITE! Anthology. Boston: South End Press.

Scully, Judith M. 2000. “Cracking Open CRACK: Unethical Sterilization Movement Gains Momentum.” Different Takes: A publication of the Population and Development Program at Hampshire College (No. 2, Spring 2002). Available Online: <; Accessed on: November 25, 2007.

See also:


~ by Serena on November 25, 2007.

3 Responses to “Contemporary Population Control Discourse”

  1. I did a post on this organization a couple of years ago, and some folks reading it really could not bring themselves to understand how this is coercive and f’ed up, essentially bribing women to be sterilized or use a form of birth control chosen for them, rather than chosen based on what’s actually right for an individual. Ooph.

  2. […] that still coerce “unfit” women (mostly poor women and women of color) into permanently removing their reproductive capabilities. So this is not just “history.” This is not just happening in China — although […]

  3. […] Feminist Response to LaBruzzo’s Sterilization Plan. LaBruzzo ei ole ajatustensa kanssa yksin: Mississippi Appendectomy (“Mississippin umpisuolenpoisto”) kertoo organisaatiosta, joka tarjoaa 200 dollaria […]

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