For parents of disabled children, the reality is that they may be caring for them for the rest of their lives. For those that do, there is an unsettling issue that comes up -- how to deal with your teenage daughter when she goes through puberty? Some parents want to be able to sterilize their intellectually disabled girls to ensure a better quality of life. It's controversial, to be sure. But is it wrong?
Parents in favor of sterilization have found opposition in Australia. A commission on disability discrimination says that it may be a breach of human rights and the practice should be banned. However, I don't think the issue is so cut and dry. It's an agonizing decision for any parent. But it's not a question of imposing a limit on their child's future reproductive rights. These children will never have independent adult lives and families of their own.
These moms and dads say it is difficult for their daughters to go through menstruation. It's a painful and messy process that they don't often understand. One of the families tried pills to halt the process, but their daughter just wouldn't take it. For them, it was all about quality of life for her and their family.
But more than that, there are other risks associated with becoming a woman. I have seen it within my own family. I have a cousin who is “intellectually disabled.” She has matured physically, but not mentally or emotionally. As she's aged, we have often feared someone would take advantage of her. She has the communication level of a non-speaking 2-year-old. It’s really frightening to think that someone could take advantage of her vulnerability and she could get pregnant. Perhaps making this choice for her and others like her should be considered an act of love and protection.
Do you think parents have the right to sterilize their disabled children?
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