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Thursday, August 04, 2005

On My Body, My Baby, My Heroin

This is one of those vastly boring posts. Skim it, don't look for amusement or information, but do think about the issue. And let me know. I might not like your view, but it may help me find my own.
So here's the question. And this, for me, honestly is a question. To anyone who reads this, please comment, I do not have an answer and I would truly appreciate all and any input into this:
Should heroin addicted prostitutes be forced to use depo-provera (a.k.a. the shot)?
At school today, my friends, The Spiritualist and Psyche, were engaged in one of our ongoing debates: the rights of the drug addicted mother. Psyche feels very strongly about this issue: children should not be born to drug addicts. Heroin babies are guaranteed to have massive problems, of which I'm sure I don't need to get into, besides, even I don't have the time to list them all. For Psyche, women who are addicted to drugs should not have the right to bare children. (Remember, this is women who are addicts, not women who have been addicts).
The Spiritualist took the opposite stance. (Although her argument incorporated more than this, for the sake of concision, I'll stick with this one). The Spiritualist is close with a man who is the child of a drug addict. He was born an addict, raised in multiple foster homes, abused, and had no family to call his own. Alternately, he is alive. And would not wish to loose that.
Let me be clear here: This is not to debate pro-choice versus pro-life issues. Although the debate ended up being framed in a style that could be constructed to argue against a woman's right to choose, this was not the debate at hand. The Spiritualist was saying that, should a woman choose to bear a child, and choose to shoot junk while bearing that child, that this was her choice to make, and the consequences to the child were not guaranteed to be worse than the consequences to the child of a rich white god-fearing republican family, where Uncle Lester just happens to have a penchant for little kids.
So the question is, where does a woman's rights end, and a child's rights begin? Keep to the context, dammit. We're talking a child here, a situation where, given no outside interference, a birth will ensue. If a woman's actions are going to lead to irreparable damage during pregnancy, what does it take to stifle the rights of a woman, in hopes of saving said child?
I have absolutely no answers here.
Legalize prostitution, adds ability to enforce use of birth control. Sure. Doesn't help in this situation: may lessen increases in drug addiction, but those who are already addicted will not all clean up to be legal. And for those prostitutes that are legal? Well, they're no more addicts than you or me. So they should not fall under the aegis of enforced birth control. (Not to say that johns shouldn't be forced to use condoms. Legalized prostitutes have to undergo std checks - johns don't.)
So we're back to the question for debate: Should prostitutes (I realize this sounds like a complete generalization - when debating this issue, we are referring, specifically, to majority of those on East Hastings: severe addicts) be forced to use depo-provera?
I thought that in writing I'd come to a tentative conclusion, at least something to toy with. But I have nothing. Maybe I can add in time, maybe having this post here will keep the issue in my head, thereby forcing me to think about it often enough to find my stance. Until then, any input I can mull over would be greatly appreciated. I'm at a loss.

16 Comments:

Blogger Boo! said...

It would be hard to enforce a requirement to use the shot if addicted to heroin. They have to be recognized as addicts first (easy enough), then rounded up (not so easy) and given the shot. They might not want to take it. Plus there are little things about equality for everyone in our consitution. You can't sterilize people against their will (remember the stink when they were caught doing to the mentally challenged and ill?). And, if such a law were to be passed, how much would it cost give the shot to every addict in the country?

I would suggest offering the shot at safe injection sites as the best possible solution. But even that option would be limited because not all addicts visit them and not all the addicts who do would want it.

Tough question.

8/04/2005 10:57 PM  
Blogger Boo! said...

Okay, I didn't exactly stick to the issue as you requested. That's what I'm good for. :P

8/04/2005 10:59 PM  
Blogger Boo! said...

You actually have two questions posted. I responded to the first one.

8/04/2005 11:00 PM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

You did respond to the question, and came have the same points that have been mulled over before. Precendence: sterilization sucks. Equality is a useful thing to have around. Enforcement: East Hastings prostitutes are well known to the police, and checked on regularily. Could bring in for a renewal shot on occation. But outside of that area? Not so easy. Cost: cheaper than raising a drug addicted foster child. Harsh, but true.
Morality? ....

8/04/2005 11:05 PM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Oh, and I was mostly worried that some might take this as an opportunity to debate the legality of abortion. Not the point here. This is a specific issue, I don't want others to try to shift this to legality of abortion.
I know where I stand abortion, and if you want to argue it (not you, E), do it in a forum that is there to argue abortion. Not my blog. This is my home. If I tell you (still not you, E) to take your shoes off, those fucker's had better be off before you walk in my door.

8/05/2005 1:31 AM  
Blogger PornStar said...

I think they should be forced to take the shot...I think, as said person has mentioned earlier, that it can be controlled through a methadone clinic where they have to go in for a check up every couple of months anyway. I do not think abortion is wrong, but it is if it is being used as a birth control method.

8/05/2005 1:56 AM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Porny: on abortion as a birth control method: you're looking at an urban legend here. An abortion is an invasive surgery, and not something that any woman would consciously choose as a means of birth control. (Although it may not me defined as invasive, by the practitioners, there are few surgeries that are more invasive.)
On the rest, a methadone clinic is a great option for a means of dispensing the shot, but we're still left with the questions of, are those who we beleive should truly not be pregnant going to methadone clinics? And, if you have made it as far as a methadone clinic, do we have the right to deny your most basic, biological rights? And I'm still looking for a good arguement as to why we should deny your rights, as a current addict. (Yes, we've stated the obvious, but put it to me in a way that overrides the mother's rights. And in this situation, I am counting those on methadone as not being current addicts.)

8/05/2005 2:10 AM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Thanks girls, you've given me more to think about. If I argue the point, well you know me, that's what I do. And what you say is definately being incorperated into my final conclusions on the issue. (Assuming I ever come up with final conclusions.)
Keep commenting on this till you run right dry, please. I'm not used to not knowing what I think about a matter, and any thought helps.

8/05/2005 2:13 AM  
Blogger bitchphd said...

Well, the "abortion as a birth control method" is a total red herring: who cares? Not your business. And obviously you can't force people to undergo unnecessary medical procedures (including the use of birth control or abortion). Erica's right: what's needed, if people are concerned, is a well-run outreach program that provides not only what *we* think they need (birth control) but also what *they* think they need (clean needles, a place to sleep, whatever).

The real problem here, though, is needing to step back from the immediate issue--drug addicts not using birth control!--to look at the larger issue, which is that prostitution happens, mostly, when women are vulnerable. Addiction obviously contributes to vulnerability (and vice versa). Shitty things will happen when women's lives suck--kids born in bad conditions women at risk, and so on.

There was a program in the states that paid drug addicts to use birth control. It was quite controversial, because it was argued that it was exploitative--drug addicts obviously will do almost anything for money. But at least it was a step above "forcing" people. I think, at the very least, discussions like this need to step away from "we need to make these people do what we think is good for them!" to "ok, here is a public health problem; what are the contributing factors? What is the solution? How can we get people to implement and comply with the solution? And the usual public health steps are: education, providing what's needed low or free of cost, making it easily accessible, providing incentives for compliance (e.g. a well-baby check when you bring in a kid for a vaccination), providing social workers to supervise people and check up on them, and so on. In other words, you can't just grab people off the street and shove pills down their throats; you have to figure out why they don't get the health care they need, and then solve *those* problems.

8/05/2005 9:07 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

I don't really have any answers for you either. I'm in Nevada so prostitution is legal and controlled (to a point). Most prostitutes are in brothels in Nevada. Except, ironically, they made prostitution in Las Vegas illegal and there are probably more illegal, drug addicted prostitutes in Vegas than in the whole rest of the state. The fact is that if they are doing Heroin, they probably have many other factors to be worried about other than the possibility of a drug addicted child (aids and other std's, getting beaten or killed).
A very close family member was a teenage heroin addict who dabbled in prostitution. At around age 21, she chose to have a tubal ligation. She reasoned that not only was she in no position to care for a child but she didn't know what kind of child her body would produce, given all of the abuse she had put it through. When I met her, she was no longer addicted to anything hard, but still smokes pot and drinks. For years I always admired her decision as taking responsibility.
She never seemed to miss having kids and never seemed like the type to have been a good mother, not that she isn't a good person in her own way, she just isn't very nurturing.

8/05/2005 10:24 AM  
Blogger PornStar said...

I never said all were using it as a method of birth control, but there are a few that do. Some have admitted that they do.

Of course there are many outlying factors here, but if we are willing to have safe needle injection site in our city we should also offer the shot. There are many children, especially in our city, that are addicted to a smattering of drugs or alcohol. Having watched a friends little brother grow up with FAS was not a pretty sight on most days.

I do not think we take away their right to ever have children, but it's also not right for them to harm another human being, which they are doing with their drug abuse.

8/05/2005 10:42 AM  
Blogger Girl With An Alibi said...

This is a great post. I have to agree with Bitch Phd. Forced or voluntary birth control for prostitutes and/or addicts is a band-aid. The bigger issue is what gets them to a place where they become prostitutes or addicts. That's a social issue that we all need to address. In the mean time I think it would be wrong to try and force them.

I do think that it would be okay to "bribe" for lack of a better word - by any means possible- addicts who are pregnant to get them to at least stay clean until the baby is born. That I don't have a problem with. At least you could minimize the effect on the child.

8/05/2005 10:52 AM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

Dr. B: Thanks for the response.

8/07/2005 12:00 PM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

I realized that I don't even know if birth control is offered for free at clinics on East Hastings (yes one piece of the problem, not the sum total,) not to mention the ability of clinics to provide services. For one, some (and no, not all, thank you), of those on Hastings have never worked, and would be a little unlikely to be filing taxes. (Here, health coverage is free, up to a certain annual income, then premiums increase by income range after that.)
For myself, I expect to get the same medical service as any CEO, I don't know that the same is true on Hastings. I'm sure they offer condoms at the safe injection site, and the needle exchange, but regular medical checkups, if wanted? Monthly or weekly checkups for women who are pregnant? Treatment for, say, bronchitis?
Not to mention the current welfare system in BC is set up in such a means as to make it nearly impossible to get off the streets: eg, manditory three week job hunt to get welfare, and the need for a permanent place of residence to get a check.

8/07/2005 12:22 PM  
Blogger Impulsivecompulsive said...

GWAA: Bribery is great, in my books. One problem with trying to bribe women to stay clean while pregnant, is that heroin addiction makes it a little difficult to realize that one is pregnant.
A friend of mine works at a sort of rehab centre for women, a number of which have children with them, or are pregnant. Psyche, the girl who works there, is often dissolutioned by the return visits of women who leave clean, then end up back. On the other hand, they leave clean, and it is a time and place where they have some standard of safety and stability, and they don't all come back.
Does three square meals, and a roof over your head count as bribery? If so, I'm definately all over bribery.

8/07/2005 12:29 PM  
Blogger bnlv said...

I have more than enough reason to think that addicts should be given the shot. However, I maintain what I like to think of as an objective point of view.

-Very simply, until the child is actually born, the mother keeps all rights. (Unless imprisoned for a criminal act.)

10/10/2005 3:33 AM  

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