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Sterelisation Of Young Women With Mental Disabilities

1762 words - 8 pages

Sterilisations of some young women with mental disabilities have been always involved legal debate and seen to be ethical issues. Recently in Australia, the Federal Disability Commissioner has been alarmed on the increasing numbers of disabled women and girls who are being sterilised. The Commissioner urges all the states and territories about the extent of the practice, where some parents approach medical practitioners about the possibility of sterilisation procedure of their disabled children without the authority of courts and tribunals (ABS News, 2012). This paper discusses the role of the court, parents and other stakeholders and explores some ethical issues in the purpose of the sterilisation of mentally handicap minors’ women. Knowing that sterilisation is irreparable, court orders emphasizes that parents or legal guardians who usually permit to medical procedures, not even the doctors but only the courts (Guardian and Administration Act, 1990). Moreover, it is proposed that sterilisation of mentally disabled women should not be allowed unless there is obvious reasons such pregnancy might place the life of patient in imminent danger and the sterilisation procedure must be the last option for the best interest of the child (Goldman & Quint, 1991).
According to Blackwood (1991) sterilisation on disabled young women was an unusual practice based on the reason that was in their best welfare, they would not have to concern about menstruation, pregnancy, and the possibility of having disabled children in the future. Sterilisations among intellectually disabled women have started in the United States of America from 1920s to 1970s under the eugenics theory (Silver, 2003). During this era treatment and recognition of mentally disabled young women’s rights was different from the rest of the population (Goldhar, 1991). In 1927, Justice Holmes once said that three generations of imbeciles are enough (Buck v Bell, 274 US 200). However, in 1994 the philosophy in Australia under the Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Person stated that every disabled person should benefit the same rights as those normal citizens, whatever the origin, nature and seriousness of their disabilities (Council, 1994).
In 2003, Andrew and Barrett claims that numbers of medical misconduct have dramatically risen in Australia compared to other country because of current changes in the regulation of consent. According to Petersen (1992) consent is an important principle of any legal system that the highest respect is compensated to the moral standards of physical and personal integrity. The right to consent is originated in the ethical principle of autonomy (Petersen, 1992). New York Justice Cardozo believed that every human being with sounds of mind has a right to decide what shall be done on his own body and a doctor who conducts an operation without a client’s consent commits an assault, for which he is accountable in damages (Schloendorff v Society of New York...

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