US charity offers addicts cash for sterilisation bribe

A drug addict has become the first man in Britain to take part in a controversial project which saw him get cash to be sterilised.

The 38-year-old, who wishes to be known to only as John, was given £200 in exchange for a vasectomy.

John - who has been addicted to opiates for 15 years and has been involved with drugs since he was 11 or 12 - said the cash incentive spurred him into going ahead with the procedure.

The addict, who is featured in BBC London's Inside Out programme tonight, said: "It was kind of what spurred me into doing it in a way.

"It was something that I'd been thinking about for a long time and something that I'd already made my mind up that I wanted to do. Just hadn't got round to it."

John, who admitted he had stolen things in the past and dabbled in dealing drugs, said that he was going to spend the money on overdue rent and shopping.

The controversial American charity - Project Prevention - was set up by Barbara Harris, from North Carolina, who adopted four children born of a crack addict mother.

She watched the children struggle with the addiction passed on to them by their mother.

"I got very angry about the damage that these drugs do to these children," she said on the programme.

"It was unbelievable. Isaiah could not sleep, he couldn't eat, his eyes were big, noise bothered him, light bothered him. It broke my heart.

"I was angry at the mum, And then my anger turned a little bit to where why did we allow her to do that?"

Ms Harris added: "I've been called everything. I've been spat on.

"Typically I just say to my critics: 'If you believe these women should continue to take drugs and have children, then step up in line and adopt their babies'. It's that simple."

The charity, which has already paid more than 3,500 American men and women addicted to drugs or alcohol not to have children, is offering the service to addicts in the UK and has set up a helpline for those interested.

When John called the helpline he had 30 days to think about his decision. He underwent the procedure on the NHS in mid-September.

He added: "It came as a bit of a shock to me knowing I was the first in Britain.

"I would have thought people would be snapping up the offer as soon as it came apparent as it was there.

"I won't be able to support a kid. I can just about manage to support myself. Just about got it together to do that."

The project also pays addicts to get long-term birth control including intrauterine contraceptive devices or a contraceptive implant.

:: BBC London Inside Out investigation will air today at 7.30pm on BBC One.