Image courtesy of The Telegraph. Remember, readers, that all heroin addicts look like the girl from 'The Exorcist'.
The amount of comments drawn by the Daily Mail article agreeing with Ricky Gervais about the enforced sterilisation of 'chavs' is shocking and worthy only of our contempt and ridicule. After all, fundamental principles of human dignity and the right to family should protect all of us from the wickedness and arrogance of men who wish the State to dictate to its citizens who may have children and who may not.
And yet this process is now and has been for a long time, already under way. Today, I read an article which is cleverly and delicately worded, but fundamentally, a nasty, nasty piece of work. It is written by a doctor, Max Pemberton, who has written about his time dealing with drug addicts. He is probably still at large. I've given his article a light fisking.
How crafty with words are these social workers?
'You won't take my baby away, will you?" asked Rachel, tears welling up in her eyes. I didn't answer. She knew that Social Services had asked me to write a report about her drug use. What I said might influence their decision as to whether or not she would be allowed to keep the baby. Rachel was now seven months pregnant and had been seeing me as a patient when I worked in a drug rehab clinic. She was addicted to heroin. [Can't you just feel his empathy?] Initially, I had thought that being pregnant she would immediately want to engage with treatment and stop injecting drugs. Surely, the bond that a mother feels for her unborn child is stronger than any addiction? I was mistaken. [Really? Rachel must be evil, then, right?]
Despite her assurances each week that she would stop using, her urine tests always showed positive for heroin. Of course, heroin is highly addictive substance, but I struggled with the thought that while Rachel assured me she would love the child, she could fail it so spectacularly before it was even born. [Interesting, that a social worker should stand up for rights of the unborn. Historically and generally speaking, your ilk have been quite into abortion but there we go.]
Rachel was one of a number of women I saw regularly who injected heroin while pregnant. The extent of this problem was laid bare last week with government statistics showing that, every month, 100 babies are born addicted to heroin because of their mother's use. They experience horrendous withdrawal symptoms, because of their size and immaturity, which can prove fatal. [Max is wonderful, isn't he. He really cares for babies.]
I have talked to many people addicted to drugs in an attempt to get them to stop using. These people deserve our compassion and care [Yes. I agree.]; many have turned to drugs to anaesthetise themselves against horrific traumas, abuse or neglect they experienced as children. Many more have suffered loss or disruption in their adult lives, which they were unable to cope with, or are dogged by psychological difficulties. [He's so understanding.] But [there's always a 'but'...] what I learnt from my time working with drug addicts was that part of being human is that we all have choices. And every time someone injects drugs, it is a choice. [Profound. So, when it comes to the unborn, social workers are not 'pro-choice'?]
In recent years, there has been a fashion for doing everything possible to ensure that children are kept within the family home, rather than being removed by social services [May I say, this is an outright and diabolical lie. The SS have been nicking the children of the poor for ages. You could even say that was why it was started.]. As a general rule, I believe that the state should intervene as little as possible in people's lives. But [There's always a 'but'...] a baby is entirely dependent on others for its welfare and therefore the state should act to ensure that its welfare is paramount [Never heard of the Abortion Act 1967? Great child protection policy. Don't think it has failed anyone yet?!]. When a child is born addicted to heroin, we are failing the child with our softly-softly approach. I refuse to believe that a mother who allows her child to be born addicted to drugs has its bests interests at heart [Yet, she still has not killed it.]. On this subject, I am quite adamant: in every case where a mother has failed to engage with treatment and a child has been born addicted to drugs, the baby should be permanently removed from the mother. [Wow! No more Mr Nice Guy, eh?!] The reason for this rather draconian stance is twofold. [This had better be good.]
Firstly, in failing to enter a detox programme the mother has shown that she is prioritising illegal drugs over the welfare of her child [A fair point, but very presumptuous. Why not ask her why she's not taking up your offers?]. This, of course, is her choice, but in making such a choice, she is communicating a level of disregard for her unborn child that cannot be tolerated [This guy is pro-life, right? I mean, he's just got to be!]. Secondly, a child being raised in an environment where illegal drugs are being used is not receiving the best care. [Hang on. The child has not yet been born. This lady might need some serious support from friends and perhaps extended family. Who knows, perhaps social services could help her too?] Research shows that children brought up in such an environment are at risk of abuse and neglect [Drug user = evil abuser. Sorry, Max, carry on stigmatising] and are more likely to develop serious behavioural problems, mental illness and drug addiction later in life. By intervening when a child is a newborn, rather than waiting to see if things improve, it will be given a chance. [But the mother hasn't yet held her baby yet in her arms. Boy, I'll bet that's a potential game changer and a half, if ever there was one! But, as you say, its important to give the baby a chance, even if you don't give the new mother a chance to be a mother, break her heart and push her to the brink of suicide and to the nearest smackhouse in town.]
Around the same time that I had to write the social services report about Rachel's drug use, I was shown around the neonatal intensive care unit, and I saw a heroin-addicted baby. She was limp, grey and unresponsive. She was given morphine in order to help her withdrawal from heroin. She was one of more than 1,000 babies born every year like this. As I held this tiny scrap of a human being in my hands, I knew that she deserved a better start in life. And in that moment I knew what the answer to Rachel's question should be.'
1. Let us meet this argument head on. The baby is alive and though born addicted to heroin, goes through a period of withdrawal, so that it is not addicted to heroin for the rest of its life. Neither, might I add, is addiction to drugs, necessarily 'genetic', unless you swallow the eugenics bible for whom the word 'good birth' means birth to a 'good gene pool'. That, unfortunately for them, rules out the very poor, the mentally ill and drug addicts. Frankly, 'people like that' would rather that 'people like that' never had children since, in essense they consider 'people like that' to be sub-human. Marie Stopes believed this so much that she wanted the poor to be sterilised.
2. What is this 'better start in life'? Who do you have in mind? A homosexual couple in Wolverhampton? A middle-class family in Dulwich? Have you also read the research that suggests that babies ripped from their mothers at birth grow up with identity problems, psychological trauma, mental illness and drug addiction later in life? What Max fails to mention is the most important aspect of this issue and there is a good reason why he has failed to mention it. What he is really talking about is adoption. Now, may I explain that when a child is taken from his or her mother and put up for adoption that the mother has no access whatsoever to contact or see that child until he or she has grown up, usually to the age of 18 and asks the questions, "Who is my real mummy?" "Did she give me away?" "Didn't she love me?" "What was she like?" "Where is she now?" "Should I see her?" "Can I contact her?" "Has she written to me?" "Where are the letters?" "Why did you destroy them?" "Is she still alive?" "Who am I?"
3. Men like Max Pemberton do not really care about babies born or unborn. Nor do they care about those who suffer from heroin addiction. They just pretend to. They are stealing babies from the poor and providing babies on demand for those who cannot have them naturally. May I also suggest that a great deal of abuse occurs within adoptive families and just as you cannot guarantee that a mother addicted to heroin will not neglect a child, you cannot guarantee that an adoptive family will not abuse the child taken from the natural mother. Also, once you have 'dealt with' the 'problem' of the natural mother, she may be inclined to take her own life since you have ripped what could be her only reason for living from her arms, more or less, forever.
We Catholics are on the side of the Crucified. Not the Crucifiers. And yes, I did nick that phrase from one of Fr Ray's homilies.