Nov 1, 2012

Who has the right to sterilise the disabled? Families divided

A Senate inquiry is looking into the forced sterilisation of women and girls with disabilities. Crikey intern Yolanda Redrup finds families are split on the practice.

A Senate inquiry into the sterilisation of disabled women and girls is polarising carers and families, following criticism of Australia’s laws by the United Nations. Some families want the current laws, which permit sterilisation in certain circumstances, to remain. Others want sterilisation criminalised.

The inquiry, launched in September, is investigating the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities. In one submission to the inquiry, a parent of a 27-year-old disabled girl reflects on the difficulties their daughter would face if she bore a child:

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3 thoughts on “Who has the right to sterilise the disabled? Families divided

  1. Mike Smith

    Tricia Malowney, chair of Women with Disabilities Victoria, says the needs of the child should be considered first and foremost.

    “I don’t buy the argument that it’s in the best interest of the child that she be sterilised,” she told Crikey. “Why would you sterilise a child? Is it in the interest of the child or is it in the interest of the carers?”

    You certainly aren’t considering the rights of the child that the disabled person might be giving birth to.

  2. Clytie

    I don’t agree that desexing (and that’s what it is) is the answer to the issues raised in this article. Long-term contraception is effective (including six-monthly injections).

    For example, my neurological disease causes me a great deal of pain, which was severely exacerbated by my menstrual cycle. I’ve been on hormone therapy for decades, with no observable ill effects. The hormone therapy also provides reliable contraception.

  3. Edward James

    I worked as a volunteer in Parramatta Psychiatric Hospital during a nurses strike about twenty years ago. I noticed and commented on the doling out of contraceptive pills to patients. Twenty or more years down the track. I can read this reasonable question. But i will point out people whom we may consider incapable, can and do bring up fully functioning children who love respect and support their parents. Edward James

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