Problem

Denial of the right to procreate to the severely mentally handicapped

Other Names:
Sterilization of the mentally disabled
Nature:
The use of sterilization of mentally handicapped for what ever reason is a denial of a fundamental human right, the right to procreate.
Incidence:
In Austria in 1997, 70% of mentally handicapped were sterilized, and the practice continues. Australia sterilized more than 1000 retarded girls between 1992 and 1997 without the required court permission, a figure contradicted by the Australian health ministry. Now such sterilizations are illegal unless medically required. Swiss doctors sterilized mentally handicapped patients without their consent from 1928 until around 1977. The Swedish government sterilized 60,000 women, commonly against their will, between 1935 and 1976 on grounds of low intelligence, race, promiscuity or rebelliousness.
Claim:
The physiological and psychological changes brought about by pregnancy and the demands of parenthood are beyond the capacity of mentally retarded people to handle. Especially retarded women are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse. Normal contraceptive methods are inadequate, because they are not capable of taking adequate precautions against pregnancy. The only acceptable alternative is sterilization, and in the cases where they are not competent to make the decision, the consent for sterilization is given by others on their behalf.
Counter Claim:
While there are many instances of the misuse of sterilization, there are a few cases where this must be an option available to authorities for the sake of the good of society and for the sake of the health and happiness of the individual. Due to society's and the medical profession capacity for the mentally handicapped more and more are able to function effectively within the community in the care of relatives. Severely mentally handicapped individuals cannot care for themselves are certainly unable to care for an infant or a child. Where such a person cannot use other forms of contraception because they are unsuitable, inappropriate, dangerous or not completely effective sterilization is the only answer in the best interests of the individual.

Where a severely mentally handicapped person is member of a family that for generations has been severely mentally subnormal, in all likelihood these traits are transmittable and generations to come would be s subnormal sterilization must be a possibility. Society must have the power to sterilize for the biological benefit of humankind.

Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
Date of last update
19.05.1999 – 00:00 CEST