Forced sterilization of disabled people

Forced sterilization of disabled people

Opd-ed by Feminists Against Ableism
An Intersectional Disability Justice Collective

Who is allowed to be a parent? This is a question our society has tried to answer for a long time. The idea that not everybody should be a parent comes from eugenics. Eugenics is a set of beliefs, and practices, based around the genetic quality of the human population and the idea some people are inferior to others. The most well known example of eugenics is the Second World war, but eugenics existed far before that. Eugenics still happens today. Forced sterilization and forced contraception is a part of this.

The history of forced sterilization started in the beginning of the 1900’s as part of the eugenic movement to rid society of “undesirable traits” (like race, disability, poverty, criminal behaviour, and what they referred to as sexual defiancy). Not only was the sterilization without their informed consent, it also often happened without people’s knowledge.

Although it does not happen on the big scale it happened back then and the prevalence of it has died down since the sixties, this form of eugenics still exists today.

More common than forced sterilization, is forced contraception. Still based on the same eugenic thinking, it is deemed more acceptable because it is reversible.  Recently a new Dutch law called Wvggz, a law surrounding forced psychiatric help passed, was implemented and under this new law people, including minors, are being forced to take contraceptives, such as the contraceptive pill. This goes directly against the VN treaty about disability (Article 23), The European treaty for the protection of the rights of human beings (Article 8), and the Dutch constitution (Article 10 and 11). Everyone has the right to self-determination, bodily integrity and family life.

There are a lot of prejudices about disabled parenting, and the main prejudice is that our disabilities automatically mean that we are unable to properly parent. A certain infantilization is part of this prejudice. The assumption is that children will miss out in life, will be neglected or done harm.

The purpose of forced contraception is to stop child abuse by making certain some children cannot be born. Forced contraception isn’t just a severe infringement on the rights of parents and parents to be, multiple experts established that it does not work against child abuse.

The Wvggz is an individual solution for something that is a societal problem: The lack of support and social services so children with and without disabled parents can grow up in a safe environment. Accessibility, support and social services for disabled people as a whole, to help them live full lives, will also benefit disabled parents. We should offer people solutions, not take their rights away. Feminists Against Ableism fights for an accessible and inclusive society in which the human rights of the individual are not taken away.

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