Posts Written by Genevra

Sterilization of developmentally disabled women

This is in response to “How the war on reproductive freedom hurts women with disabilities.

I understand the dangers in assuming that developmentally disabled women cannot make their own reproductive choices, but my experience–or at least, the experience of my mother–makes me feel differently than the author of that post.

It can be hard to draw the line between helping developmentally disabled women prevent unwanted pregnancy and in engaging in eugenics. In some cases, sterilization of disabled women–who often can not voice consent or a lack of consent–can be an act of compassionate care and freedom, not of eugenics or enslavement.

My mother worked as a nurse at a home for disabled adults in the late 1980s. There was a woman there who had a severe cognitive disability, was nonverbal, and was unable to care for herself (she couldn’t, for example, use a toilet or manage her periods without assistance). Her caregivers found hints over time that she was either secretly sexually active, or that someone was repeatedly raping her, while she was a resident in this home.

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