Sterilizing your children?

A family I know has a son who is on the autism spectrum. (PDD-NOS). He has been in special education all his life, but is an easy kid. He seems now, as a teenager, more shy than socially unperceptive and more learning disabled than autistic.He has a wicked and insightful sense of humor and a pretty broad store of knowledge and great verbal ability. Not that any of that makes what happened worse — it would be evil if he were the most disabled kid in the school, or the world.

They had a “social worker” assigned to them through the Community Services Board. She came to the house 3 or 4 times and she addressed all her comments to his parents. Asked their son one or two questions total, of a factual nature; that was it. The last time she came, in “preparing them for what’s down the road,” she went over the guardianship process, and in passing mentioned the option of sterilizing their child — one that “many parents” had arranged for. 

WHAT?? My friend, the mother, was incredulous. And deeply disturbed. And so saddened that in the minds of many their son was so devalued he shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce, since his child might be just like him. And angry, angry like an animal whose offspring is threatened. The bureaucratic setting and language made it worse. Is that even legal? she blurted (after asking the woman to repeat it to make sure she hadn’t imagined it). Apparently it is in the state of Virginia, but with stringent legal safeguards. Isn’t that almost eugenics a la Nazi “racial cleansing” but on a smaller scale? Isn’t that sickening? Isn’t that evil?

My friend, the mother, has a mental illness. She was told as a 21 year old by a doctor she didn’t even know that “she should never have children” so as not to pass on her mental illness, or be unable to parent one competently. It was one of the most devastating things anyone had ever said to her. And now it was her son who was being kicked to the curb like stray trash.

People with illnesses, people disabled by them — temporarily or permanently (and you can’t know when a permanent disability will turn out to be only temporary) — are every inch the human being everyone else is, with every one of the same rights, with all of the same inherent value and ability to contribute. It is pure evil to behave toward them any differently.


  1. bpkathleen posted this