Briton sterilised under 'cash for vasectomy' offer
A drug addict has become the first man in Britain to be sterilised in exchange for cash under a controversial new project.
The man, known as John, who has been addicted to heroin for 15 years, was given £200 (€230) by an American charity in return for having a vasectomy.
Project Prevention, the charity running the scheme, has made similar payments to thousands of men and women in America in a crusade to prevent them having children who may inherit their addictions.
The 38-year-old man said he had been involved with drugs since the age of 11 or 12 and that the offer of money had "spurred" him into having the operation.
He 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 around to it."
The charity began offering the cash incentive to British addicts after paying 3,500 American men and women addicted to drugs or alcohol to be sterilised.
John said he was given 30 days to make a decision after calling the charity's helpline, and had the operation on the NHS in September.
He told BBC London's Inside Out, to be screened on Monday night: "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 woman behind the project, Barbara Harris, from North Carolina, said she set up the charity after adopting four children whose mother was addicted to crack.
She said: "I got very angry about the damage that these drugs do to these children.
"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."
But the scheme has attracted criticism from people who feel the charity is exploiting vulnerable people and led to accusations of social engineering.
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."
But the scheme has met criticism from addiction charities.
A spokesman for Addaction, the drug and alcohol treatment charity, said: "Addaction firmly believes there is no place for Project Prevention in the UK because their practices are morally reprehensible and irrelevant.
"Sex education and contraceptive advice is part of drug treatment work in this country. Women who use drugs can access all types of contraception free on the NHS including a number of long term options."
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 on Monday at 1930 on BBC One.