Article on Project Prevention Published in The Catholic Herald

It isn't available online, so if you'd like to read my article on the US charity, Project Prevention, who were in the UK encouraging drug addicts to be sterilised, you can buy The Catholic Herald at your local parish Catholic Church.

I've been given permission to reproduce an email I have received from someone whose experiences of addiction led her to be voluntarily sterilised. I think you'll agree it is powerful stuff. Over the coming years, Holy Church will need witnesses like her, who defend those with addictions vulnerable to the temptations offered by Project Prevention, to Christ's redeeming love, compassion and forgiveness.

'Are you the person who wrote the article in The Catholic Herald on Project Prevention? If so, please can I ask that you continue to promote how wrong this concept is?
I am a recovering alcoholic, I have been, through the grace of God, in recovery since March 1998. I have one son who is going to be eighteen years old next week. As you will see I was still drinking after I had him. I did stop drinking when I was pregnant until he was just over a year old. When my son was about a year old, at the same time as I started drinking again around March 1994, I was sterilised. It was the worst decision of my life. At the time it felt like my only option as my marriage was difficult, I knew I was an alcoholic and could not cope if my marriage fell apart as a single parent.
To have the procedure was incredibly easy. I had one appointment with my GP and two appontments with a gynaecologist. My husband was not even asked to attend. I was only asked if he agreed. At the time it seemed so simple that even though I knew it was against the Church's teaching, I did not realise just how big a sin it is. I did not even tell the doctors why I was doing it, simply that I did not want children and my son had been an accident. I had not wanted children because I felt that as an alcoholic I was not fit to be a mother. I was therefore, at 29 years of age, made unable to ever have children.
The moment the procedure took place I felt I was no longer a woman. For years after stopping drinking I suffered with anxiety and depression and the sterilisation contributed to this. As it turned out, my son is the greatest gift I could ever have had. I have turned out to be an excellent mother. My son has an autistic spectrum disorder, yet is now applying for university due solely to the help I have fought for him to get. He is a wonderful, respectful, caring young man who is loved by everyone he meets. Everyone tells me I am a great mum and he would not have got as far as he has without my support.
No one could ever understand why I was able to be sterilised so easily. My sister in law (not a Catholic) was refused because she was too young, despite being told pregnancy could kill her by the same health authority a few years earlier. I now suspect it was so easy for me because I was classified as not 'fit to breed' because of my history of addiction. I was told so little about the procedure, I was surprised when I had a menstural period afterwards! I would have loved more children. My heart breaks when I look at mum's with toddlers. I know it is my own sin that means I have only one child and, while I thank God for my son, I am filled with regret for my actions. God has used my sin to good. I have worked tirelessly with the local autistic group to help other youngsters and parents because I felt so guility that I only had one child to look after and others had been open to God's will and had to try and juggle a family. I have become a school governor and helped make sure young peole get a decent education.
Through all this, however, my self-hatred was there, with all I had done when I was drinking including and especially the sterilisation. I knew I was going to Hell. Once I stopped drinking, my sexual relationship with my husband ceased as I felt I did not want to be touched, as I was no longer a woman because I had mutilated myself. I never felt I was a good mother, despite all people said, because I had made such a terrible decision and it was abnormal - not what a real woman would do. I could go on, but I think you understand from what I have said that you must raise awareness that God can treat addicitions and people can become "normal" responsible citizens. I am fortunate. Three years ago, I returned to the Church that I had stopped attending after I was sterilised in about 1997. Over the last year, I have, through repeated use of the graces of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, come to terms with my past and now am no longer receiving any treatment as the anxiety and depression have gone.
If you can stop even one person making such a drastic decision at a time when they are too vulnerable to understand what they are doing then your efforts will be rewarded in the gratitude you will know when you meet them in Heaven.


pelerin said…
I wondered why it had sold out yesterday from the back of the church! Now I know. I managed to buy a copy today. Excellent article Laurence - is it your first published article? If so may it be the first of many.
georgem said…
Well done you. I'll seek it out.
Rusticus said…
Very good article - the first of many, I hope.

Well done Laurence,and congratulations.
Professional Reviewer said…
It's been so heavily edited that it bears little resemblance to your original article which was barely intelligible. I think they probably published it as an act of sympathy and charity for you. Hardly up to scratch for what is meant to be a professional publication.
I haven't seen a copy yet, so I don't know how much it was edited.

The original article is not available online therefore you haven't read it.
Anonymous said…
I just wanted to say that I too thought it was a great article, and very illuminating.
georgem said…
Ah, Lozza, envy and spite - the price of fame. Still, you're big enough to deflect it.

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