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Prairie sunset

Tough question: say yes to sterilization?

Is it okay for a person with a disability to be sterilized?  In a recent London court case ruling the answer is yes.

Historically, sterilization has formed a sinister part of institutionalization. Many people with developmental disabilities, particularly women, were forced to undergo sterilization procedures as part of misguided eugenics laws of the past.

Prairie sunset
Photo by Matt Reinbold

As a modern twist, an Englishman with a developmental disability has chosen to have a vasectomy.  He is already a parent with his long-term girlfriend in England.  He is capable of sexual consent but struggles to use contraception effectively.  The strain his relationship experienced from his first born has convinced the man that he would not like to become a father again.

Mrs Justice Eleanor King, the British Judge responsible for the case, has ruled in the 36 year old man’s favor.

My first thought when reading the CBC article was, “Really?  Dude has to go to court to choose his preferred method of birth control?”

I know men who have chosen to have a vasectomy and none of them had to go to court.  How is it equal that this man must?

But then the ramifications came slamming home.  How influenced was this man by other people?  What were his alternatives?  Had they been explained to him?

Supporting men with contraceptive can be…erm…”personal” for a lack of a better term.  I understand how this could be uncomfortable for the gentleman supported and his partner.

I do have reservations about how this man came to be so enthusiastic about his vasectomy.  According to the BBC, “The birth of the couple’s first child had had a “profound” effect on both families, and measures were taken to ensure there was no further pregnancy, including keeping the couple apart and supervising any contact between them.”

“The couple’s relationship “nearly broke under the strain, but remarkably weathered the storm.” ”

How can anyone make an informed decision under that kind of stress?  I respect the natural concerns his support circle must have about future children.  I support the man’s choice to not become a father again.

But…would he have chosen the same way if he hadn’t had been prevented from seeing his girlfriend?

Mencap supports the decision which reined in my inner advocate tigress.  As a well respected community living advocate and supporter I believe that this man’s interests have been very closely observed and respected if Mencap is supporting the decision.

What are your thoughts?  Any concerns raised by you on this court ruling? How could this affect Canadian supports?


Inclusion Blog Post

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