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Time to stop the forced sterilisation of girls and women with disability

The Senate Community Affairs Committee has announced its intention to consider the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia. Unless it focuses on the right of people…

We have surprisingly little information about the extent of forced sterilisation in Australia. Porsche Brosseau

The Senate Community Affairs Committee has announced its intention to consider the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities in Australia. Unless it focuses on the right of people with disability to live free from discrimination, the history of inaction on the issue is bound to continue.

Even though the issue of forced sterilisation has received policy attention since the late 1980s, we have surprisingly little information about the extent of the practice. A 1997 report showed permission was given by the Family Court and other state-based guardianship tribunals for 17 procedures to be carried in the period from 1992 to 1997, but Health Insurance Commission statistics showed that 1045 sterilisations were carried out in that period.

A report tabled in the Senate in 2000 disputed these figures and a 2001 report from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission demonstrated the unreliability of data in this field while lamenting that the debate was reduced to numbers and not concern about girls and young women with intellectual disability.

What we can be confident about is this – forced sterilisation is exclusively directed at girls and women; boys and young men do not figure in the discussion. And there are no recorded instances of the procedure being sought for non-therapeutic reasons for girls or young women who are not disabled.

A turbulent history

Non-voluntary hysterectomy was widespread in Australian disability services until the 1980s. Generally, parents, doctors and service providers arranged the procedure for prepubescent girls about to enter group home accommodation. In fact, girls and women had to be shown to have been sterilised before they could enter such accommodation. Whether those who remained at home were also forcibly sterilised is not known.

In the United States, forced sterilisation was compulsory for disabled girls even when they were living in their home community, although blanket sterilisation has been challenged there since the 1980s. Stephen Jay Gould’s 1985 essay “Carrie Buck’s Daughter” explored this practice as a type of eugenics policy. Opponents of the practice in Australia also identify the assumptions behind forced sterilisation of disabled girls as being based on eugenics.

Australia’s approach of forcibly sterilising most intellectually disabled girls was challenged in the Family Court in the 1990s. A 1992 appeal to the High Court clarified the question of who should decide whether a disabled girl should be sterilised. All decisions from that time must be made in the Family Court or an acceptable state-based tribunal and then only if there’s compelling evidence that it’s in the girl’s best interest.

During the first part of 2000s (based on evidence of “irregular” procedures), the Australian Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) Working Group sought agreement from all state governments to a Sterilisation Model Bill. The aim of the Bill was to provide a nationally consistent approach to this issue, but it was withdrawn in 2007 due to lack of agreement from the states.

In 2010, the federal attorney general told the United Nations that very few such procedures were being carried out. No data was offered to support this conclusion.

Disability advocates suspect that girls are now taken overseas or that euphemisms, such as menstrual regulation, are used to refer to forced sterilisation and that it is still performed on disabled girls in Australia.

Dubious justifications

Proponents of forcible sterilisation fear disabled girls' reaction to menstrual blood, be it disgust or fascination – and that their personal hygiene will suffer.

And as they grow older, girls face a different rationale. At this point, the focus swings to sexual activity or abuse, and contraception. Australian women with disability are at higher risk of sexual exploitation and abuse than the wider female population. And proponents argue sterilisation is necessary to ensure disabled women don’t conceive as a result of sexual assault.

Apart from the clearly heartless justification of this position – we can’t keep you safe, so we will stop you from becoming pregnant – opponents see this as exposing disabled women to further risk by effectively offering protection to perpetrators of sexual assault.

Anecdotal evidence from workers in the child protection field suggests that women with intellectual or psycho-social disabilities also face strong pressure to be sterilised if they have children in child protection. The threat of coercion for these women is obvious - they fear that they won’t be allowed see their children unless they acquiesce.

Doing the right thing

Over the past 20 years, various bodies have sought clarity about who should decide whether a disabled woman is sterilised with many, including Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), advocating a complete ban on sterilising girls without medical necessity.

South Australia and New South Wales have clarified guardianship laws for adults and the Family Law Council has detailed guidelines for decision-making in the Family Court following the 1992 High Court case mentioned above.

With this recent history, it’s tempting to conclude that the inquiry could make little difference. But ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability is driving significant policy changes as all Australian governments to come to grips with what it means to pursue a comprehensive rights framework.

Academics and advocates are calling for a national adult protection framework to address this issue along with other rights abuses reported in services. A commitment to such a rights framework will assist the inquiry heed the voices of women who will be affected by a national policy in this area.

Sterilisation for non-therapeutic purposes should never substitute for proper support with menstruation, sexual safety and support when disabled women become mothers. Without the dedicated pursuit of their right to bodily integrity, competing interests will have their sway and disabled girls and women will continue to face forced sterilisation.

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48 Comments sorted by

  1. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    This sort of procedure stinks, wherever it is used. It reflects no interest for human basic rights, only for a sort of empty logical thinking I normally would place at those labeled sociopaths. Logic isn't everything in this world, and that is a truth. And don't do to others what you won't accept yourself is another maxim to remember.

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    1. Joe Gartner

      Tilter

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      I disagree, I think this is uncommon and takes into account the burden of parenting away from a person who is not capable of parenting.
      As a society we accept the right of the mother to terminate a viable foetus regardless of its genetic health, why is it wrong for the state to similarly act on behalf of a person incapable of reasoned decision or ability to care for an infant? Would you prefer that we allow persons without the ability to care for an infant to give birth and then wrest the child away into care? Or worse allow the infant to grow with a parent unable to care for it.
      If this is heartless and logical, well I suspect this is a decision faced by many parents or carers of intellectually impaired adolescents and the decisions that they, or that the state makes on their behalf, should be recognised as far from blasé. Instead sound bioethical framework should be erected to make this extremely difficult decision as sound as possible.

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    2. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Good post, Joanne Garnet.

      Of course this is a terribly difficult issue to make hard and fast decisions on, it does raise eithical questions of the highest order, but all too often, as a couple of emotive posts here testify, we have the predictable and tiresome either/or mantra raise its feeble head.

      No-one in their right mind would deny a person the right to enjoy a full sex life but if that results in children being born to mothers who have an intellectual age of a child themselves, why doesn't basic common sense operate?

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    3. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      Where is your logic? On one side you state that it is a womans right to self decide if to keep or lose a fetus? On the other you state that it is not her right to decide, but society's? Either it is a woman prerogative to have kids, and also to decide what to do, or it is society's. Maybe you are slightly 'wishy washy' meaning both depending on 'circumstances. And who would decide those circumstances Joe? In those cases we're discussing now? The mothers wishes, or the 'society's'?

      You better decide what you mean.

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    4. Jonathan Maddox

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      In every case, things depend on circumstances.

      Having a right to decide something depends on having the ability to make an informed decision about it. Adulthood is the presumed criterion for making informed decisions, but in the case where someone's "mental age" is nine, the wishy-washiness comes in whether or not to consider that person an adult.

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    5. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      Jonathan Maddox, you are right in saying this is not a black and white issue, and the weakness imheremt in making it so, can clearly be seen in relation to the issues regarding the enforcing of blood transfusions on the children of Jehovah's Wtinesses, when their religion expressly forbids it. Is there any major difference in society deeming the life of the child more important than that religious belief, should that belieif result in the death of that child? I don't thnk so - we have, rightly or…

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    6. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      I'm sorry but this is an average reply and response, and I've noticed that you 'hit and run'.

      Your post here is riddled with either/or pigoen-holing.

      'On the one side', or lose', 'on the other'. 'Either it is ....or it is society's', 'the mother's wishes, or the 'society's''.

      These full as flat as lead pancakes becaause they rest on one simple proposition: non compos mentis is invalid.

      Nature, for all its wonder, will sometimes deliver the cruelest of blows and fate to some people. I know a girl who was a student at our school who spent her entire school day in a wheelchair, dribbling and unable to understand a word anyone was saying. She is now, being twenty years of age or so, probalby able biologically to bear a child, and anyone who argues she should be given the 'right', far from supporting her, is mocking her heartlessly.

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    7. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Clifford Chapman

      Clifford Chapman Retired English Teacher said ; ".... entire school day in a wheelchair, dribbling and unable to understand a word anyone was saying. She is now, being twenty years of age or so, probalby able biologically to bear a child.."

      This is a most hideous and inappropriate example.
      What carer in there right mind, would let a 'set of functioning male reproductive organs' go near someone intellectually disabled to point you describe to have sex? What you have inferred would clearly need facilitating and legally fall into the area of rape and culpability on the part of a carer.

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    8. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Of course it is, whiich is why I wrote it, not because of the idea of her bearing a child but because of inane comments by either/or thinkers about 'every woman's right to be a mother, and why have you selectively ignored my last setence which makes it quite clear what my thoughts about it are?

      If you haven't been following the earlier postings and read such comments, at least try to understand the point that's being made: it's not an either/or thing, for the umpteenth time, but depends upon circumstances.

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    9. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Clifford Chapman

      Don't know if that was addressed to me Clifford? If so, you're blathering, and that doesn't impress. We all have family's, and in all family's you can find those worse of than yourself, especially when letting materialism alone decide ones 'appropriate responses'. You ignore the human experience, and humanism, when you so self righteously assume your right to condemn others for not being you. You're in dire need to grow up.

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    10. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      With all due respect to you, neither does your use of English, impress, that is.

      And I sure wouldn't be looking to curry favour with someone trotting out your sweeping statements, assumptions and generalisations, that's for sure.

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    11. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Yeah, I'm in dire need to grow up, all right, as you busily find my comments and press the negative button.

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    12. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Clifford Chapman

      Sorry Clifford, wasn't me. Generally I only use the 'positive' integer :) that is if I want to reinforce someones opinion, which can happen at times. But we all have a right to our own views, and as this is a place where we are supposed to debate about them? Using the 'negative' makes a bad way of debating, as I see it that is.

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    13. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Jonathan Maddox

      There we differ Jonathan. to me every person will be a person, unique, and as worthy of existing as me. Using that as my base the rest of my views becomes self-explanatory if you think of it. We're all born, we all die, and we're all here together. We better listen to each other, no matter our 'intellectual age' because when communication breaks down, force takes over.

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    14. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      In that case, I withdraw the accusation, although the negatives suddenly coming did conicide with your earlier comments to me.

      But I do agree with your assessment of them, and given this site holds academic rigour in high esteem, I do find the pressing of negative, feeble, cowardly and infantile. Surely if you disagree with a comment or viewpoint, at least have the personal integrity to respond to it?

      Look, Yoran, in your recent response above to Jonathan Maddox, you say something with which…

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    15. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Clifford Chapman

      It's cool with me Clifford, without debating I won't know your thoughts, and you won't know mine. And there's really no need to apologize, I have days when I get vitriolic' too. Anyway. I'm glad we agree on that :)

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  2. Paul Richards

    integral operating system

    Thank you for this spotlight on such sensitive subject.

    "Sterilisation for non-therapeutic purposes should never substitute for proper support"

    How true, in our civilised society we need to provide and a full time in house carer, who can mentor these women to be effective mothers and properly look after their children. By giving their children the same rights as children around them from advantaged homes, it could break the cycle of disadvantage our culture has thrust on those whose 'life conditions' are not of their making..

    This would work particularly well for all disadvantaged indigenous women in remote and isolated communities now at the mercy of these harsh and unforgiving life conditions in their various regions.

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    1. Helen Upshall

      Counsellor/Social Worker

      In reply to Paul Richards

      Paul I think it is a little idealistic to believe that mentoring will be sufficient to help women with a disability to become good mothers. Sure it could help a bit in some cases. But, there are such limited resources available currently to look after the children and adults with disabilities in our society. To expect households to absorb babies and children into them and to have live in support, is really unrelaistic given current levels of funding.And there are great difficulties that some people with a disability face in terms of anxiety and obsessive behaviour. Trying to help a woman with Autism for example, to be a good mother, would be a huge task, in many instances.
      And your last comment seems to make a comparison between disabled people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This is unhelpful to say the least.

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    2. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Helen Upshall

      Helen Upshall ; "Paul I think it is a little idealistic to believe that mentoring will be sufficient to help women with a disability to become good mothers."
      You are entitled to your opinion, but 'if' the concept of sterilisation is a truly realistic scenario, my value system can not condone it. You might find that ok, and that is your set of values, fully appropriate for you, and I once held the same values. There is no way they can be considered better or worse than mine now.
      If the need for…

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  3. Debbie Hoad

    student at University of Canberra

    This issue is much more complicated than it appears. There are women with disability who are more than capable of caring for a child, even if they may require some support. But this is not always the case. I know a couple who are fostering two children, a brother and sister from the same mother. The mother's intellectual capacity is about that of a nine-year-old. She cannot care for a baby - does not even remember to hold the baby's head and neck safely; spends her required visits changing its clothes…

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    1. peter mackenzie

      Transport Development and Road Safety Researcher

      In reply to Debbie Hoad

      Gee, this is a real conundrum, and I don't think there are any easy one-step answers. A bit like Debbie, I know it's complciated and I don't like the idea of forced sterilisation. But at the same time, our support systems in this and related areas of family support, child protection, foster care etc are in continuing crisis of shortfall of staff and other resources.

      I have seen children of people with intellectual difficulty bounced around from carer to carer, just as I have children of drug addicted parents.

      I think the issues should be tabled by a Senate Committee, but unless that turns into proper compassionately-based resource allocation and other support, then it will be just another inquiry and report to collect dust while the victims struggle and suffer.

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Debbie Hoad

      'The thing is, this '9-year-old' lives in a fully functioning adult body. She enjoys sex a lot.'

      Great! With no idea of what the consequences will be.

      If society protects her 'right' to have sex, society has the option of rendering the young woman sterile, or providing care for an ongoing, indefinite number of kids.

      What is not discussed in this piece is what percentage of children born to these disabled young women are in turn disabled. An issue that surely must be considered in formulating…

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    3. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Debbie Hoad

      For a woman to have a baby is a basic right of womanhood as i see it. A just society sees to that the baby gets the care it needs in those cases where the mother is unable to do so. There are cases when a mother can't cope with her situation, and her kids, and why that happens can depend on all sorts of factors, not necessary the specific subject discussed here. And thats where I expect a just society to steps in, to help out.To decide for others its always easier than to take the same decision for…

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    4. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Btw, it's love ,and yes, sex, of course :) I'm discussing here. Not rape.

      Rape is a offensive act of force, and as repugnant for 'normal' women (or men) as for those intellectually impaired. and I would expect the emotional state afterwards to be similar for all that recognize it for what it is.

      http://www.aamr.org/content_198.cfm

      We had similar laws in Sweden between 1934-75, and to me it was a shameful period.

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    5. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      And a quote.

      "It is interesting to note that there have been several eugenics programs, some even in the U.S. as late as the early to mid 20th century, which focused on the forced sterilization of the individuals seen as mentally handicapped (many with conditions like depression and treatable behavior problems). In Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, those with cognitive and emotional conditions were sent to death camps or euthanized in sanitariums. The fact that these conditions were not wiped out, or even reduced significantly, shows that genetic abnormalities are not as understood as we would like to think."

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    6. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Yoron Hamber

      Yoron Hamber said ; " ..... have been several eugenics programs .... Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, those with cognitive and emotional conditions ... "

      This is really the core issue, have we evolved in our value system or not?
      Are these programs just relics of earlier values, similar to 'stealing babies' from unwed mothers or indigenous women and girls.

      Those that have written supporting removal of reproductive rights, come from an understandable perspective as suffering has followed this issue in the past and goes right to a carers burden.

      We are a civilised society and giving these any intellectually handicapped mothers assistance in raising a normal child needs to be considered.
      But is removing the rights of a mother who can birth, love and give to a child is this right? Is it evidence of an evolved thought process or a relic of past era wrapped up in 'fear'.

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  4. Robert Tony Brklje
    Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

    retired

    The real question is whether the social welfare compact, the provision of food, clothing, housing etc. for free can require something in return.
    Is breeding a right or a privilege in a supportive society. In a planet with 7 billion people, should the focus be on unrestrained breeding or should some constraints start being supplied, if 7 billion is not enough to start considering this what number becomes excessive, perhaps when starvation becomes the norm?
    Is it reasonable for society to require…

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    1. Jonathan Maddox

      Software Engineer

      In reply to Robert Tony Brklje

      An interesting comment but one I feel is unjustified on several counts.

      Breeding is neither a right nor a privilege. It is the creation of new members of society. It is an essential service provided to society and (of course!) to children by parents. It bears its own rewards but it is also a costly business and most societies recognise that parents need support. If parents are not capable of taking care of the children they have, the society makes alternative arrangements.

      Social welfare…

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  5. Susan Hemruth

    Luftmensch

    I am a law student with an interest in health law and ethics. I have children and I also have a physical disability which was compounded by pregnancy.

    Respectfully, I feel that there are many aspects which have not been adequately addressed in this article.
    Firstly, I would like to emphasise that the sexual abuse of the disabled is repugnant and unacceptable and it is vital that we take necessary steps to ensure that this does not happen.

    However, to properly engage in this discussion we must…

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    1. Lynne Newington
      Lynne Newington is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher

      In reply to Susan Hemruth

      I know many would be agreeing with your views Susan and we've already been made aware of the repugnnant abuse of the disabled, God forbid.

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    2. Helen Upshall

      Counsellor/Social Worker

      In reply to Susan Hemruth

      Susan I really value the subtleties of the issues involved in this situation, that you have raised. How true that a young woman who no longer menstruates has less need of having "personal care" by carers, who can so often be male. It is all well and good to take the high moral ground in relation to the rights of a woman with a disability to have a baby. But what about the many other areas of a young woman's life. What about having freedom to have a good life, work, experience many things in her life…

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    3. Yoron Hamber

      Thinking

      In reply to Helen Upshall

      I can see the anguish involved in this kind of decisions Helen. And I feel with you both, it's hard being a parent, wanting the best for ones kids, even when there is no problems at the horizon. But it's also a question of every generation being allowed to create their own life. And that's where a just society must be able to step in, to lighten the load from the parents.

      Building for a just society will give your daughter a better life in the end, better than assuming 'each one for themselves…

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  6. Helen James

    Project Officer

    There are many levels and types of disability. However it is fortunate that we have progressed far enough to recognise what ever the type and level of disability a person has, they are a person, including a sexual being. With the development of types of contraceptives including injections that remove periods too the need for sterilisation is largely removed and unnecessary. This is about support and service in what has been a taboo area.

    No one who works in this industry denies there are…

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  7. Sam Chung

    RA

    The comments on this issue are not surprising but disappointing. If we are so concerned about females with intellectual impairments procreating we should also be examining that of males - that is a key issue here. Are we saying that women with intellectual impairments should not reproduce but we're happy for their male counterparts to? There are many individuals who are not fit to be parents - we're not going out of our way to round them up and sterilise them.

    Imposing an irreversible procedure on girls because it makes other people's lives easier is not a valid reason. Anyone that has worked in disability knows that when a carers or parents rights come up against the person with disability - it is usually the parents / carers rights that are protected at the expense of the person with disability. And, without strong safe-guards that protect the rights of women with disabilities, this should be called what it is - eugenics.

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    1. Paul Richards

      integral operating system

      In reply to Sam Chung

      Sam Chung said " .... without strong safe-guards that protect the rights of women with disabilities, this should be called what it is - eugenics." I agree.
      The issue really is what is best for these young women, therefore their possible healthy and viable offspring.
      However it takes an evolved value system to see these complexities and a workable way around them. Currently we are just hearing echo's of past values and unevolved thinking.
      How will future generations with evolved values view our culture, really needs to be asked?

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Sam Chung

      Impaired males? I suspect that their breeding opportunities are few with 'normal' women, but I see no reason that they ought be left 'entire', if impaired young women are sterilised.

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    3. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Sam Chung

      You assume too much, Sam Chung, because, as is so often the case with these debates and issues, the responses become that all too familiar and predictable either/or security blanket, that so often litters this site, as you can see with many responses to this thread. It really is not a question of if you are not with us, you are against us.

      I, for one, if we were discussing here an adult male practicising sex who also happened to have an intellectual age of a nine year old child, would advocate…

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    4. Joe Gartner

      Tilter

      In reply to Sam Chung

      Sam,
      Men can't bear children. That's why the focus is on females with disabilities. The focus of this article and th discussion is more about care of the infant than it is about passing of deleterious genes. In that argument sterilising men would have equal validity, I would think.

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    5. Sam Chung

      RA

      In reply to Clifford Chapman

      First of all, eugenics was not limited to Nazi Germany - although -in your either/or world, perhaps you don't realise that eugenics was supported by many in the US at the same-time.

      Second of all, you seem to have missed the point - we are only doing this to girls and women with disability and by and large, not for their own good but for others convenience. People are not advocating or condoning sterilisation of boys or men. This is a very gendered issue which says the state can control a women…

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    6. Sam Chung

      RA

      In reply to Joe Gartner

      That's the point - we are not advocating this for boys, who can parent children. Sure, they may not bear them but can certainly provide sperm for them. It's a reflection of societal values that controls comparable women in a different way to their male peers.

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    7. Sam Chung

      RA

      In reply to Clifford Chapman

      And you should also note that I was not saying that this is eugenics, I said without strong safe-guards that is what it becomes. Do you oppose safeguards to forcing surgery upon people with disability?

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    8. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Sam Chung

      Once again you assume too much - I am fully aware of the USA's duplicity in such matters. Look at some of the unethical experiments they have conducted over the years with humans used as unwitting guinea pigs. Think of nuclear tests conducted where many service men were also used without their knowledge and awareness. Oh, sorry, silly me, I left out service women. How remiss of me.

      And as for my 'either/or world', as you quaintly put it, you have a nice line in irony, and when you blithely say…

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    9. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Sam Chung

      Wel, if you are not, someone using your name is cos that person said: 'this should be called what it is-eugenics.'

      And I won't resond to your last question because, although I don't wish to be rude, I find it so infantile.

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    10. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Sam Chung

      Hello, it's 'we' time again.

      Look, if it makes you feel any happier, I'd also advocate it for men who had similar intellectual difficulties.

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    11. Sam Chung

      RA

      In reply to Clifford Chapman

      Forced sterilization of people with disabilities without strong safeguards is eugenics. I'm not going to back away from that assertion just because you decide to jump up and down and link it to the Nazis. I did not say anything about the Nazis or the KKK and I certainly did not make any comments about Germans generally.

      It's fascinating that you are more than happy to make references about the abilities of people you have never met but do not want others to do the same. Clearly, you have never worked in the disability sector, have very little understanding of the challenges women with disabilities face.

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    12. Clifford Chapman

      Retired English Teacher

      In reply to Sam Chung

      Oh, the certanties of your thinking. How easy it is to exist in a world where every utterance can mean you immediately are able to make nonsensical assertions about others. Your first sentence reminds me of Basil Fawlty's line to Sybil about Mastermind: Chosen subject: 'The Bleeding Obvious', and your inability to see that I was criiticisng the Nazis and the KKK for the irony in their supposed supremacy over other human beings, given what abject creatures they really were, says more about your powers of perception than I'd like to admit.

      Tell me, after reading your last setence in your second paragraph, with its intellectual certainty and superiority, what's it like in that ivory tower of yours looking down on mre mortals like me?

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  8. Emma Anderson

    Artist and Science Junkie

    I'm surprised, in the discussion of the rights of the individual to bodily integrity, no one has mentioned infant circumcision as a related concept. Actually I'm surprised that most of the discussion has focused on sexual and reproductive rights rather than this being about bodily integrity.

    No one has the right to have sex or reproduce. We simply have the right to choose when this option is mutually available, that is, when it does not interfere with the rights of another person to choose otherwise…

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