AIBU to wonder how she is even pregnant???

(58 Posts)
TheSecondComing Thu 10-Jan-13 17:00:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bottleofbeer Thu 10-Jan-13 17:38:39

If a person has a similar mental capacity as a child I admit I wonder if they should be protected from sex in the same way we protect children from it. Afterall isn't the main reason we do so because they are emotionally too young to deal with it? (and obviously it's sick etc..)

anniroc Thu 10-Jan-13 17:53:43

Gosh I was a bit shocked by this thread. It shows how people are still shockingly ignorant about disability ( not their fault, disabled people are sidelined by society).

I used to work with young learning-disabled people and they certainly had sex, most of the girls were put on the pill or injection by their parents, anxious that this type of situation didn't arise.

You can have emotional intelligence, but severe LD's.

Mental Capacity, or laking of it, doesn't mean that you have the capacity of a child and what the law and others are doing is trying to remove that analogy.

This comes under the problem of "when Care becomes Control".

The reason why we "protect" children from sex, isn't just because of understanding, that is why children are "allowed" under the law to sexually experiment.

Leve lof vunerability will be taken into account when doing a life plan with anyone disabled, who relies on others for support.

It was a long fought battle by people who were/are disabled not to be treated as children.

People with LD's are probably the biggest group (next to the old) who are wrongly "infantilised".

bottleofbeer Thu 10-Jan-13 18:07:06

Thanks for the explanation Birds. I know a man and I've known him for years, as teenagers it was explained to us he had around the same capacity as a six year old. Ignorant of me but I always assumed that was it, he was basically six in all but body.

He's a regular now in a pub I sometimes drink in, always very smartly turned out smile It just seems confusing and I appreciate I've only really given it cursory thought. The 'mental age of six' was probably just a very simple explanation for us at the time.

God love him, he's convinced we're going to get married grin

Vagaceratops Thu 10-Jan-13 18:07:50

My first hope when I read this article this morning was that her vulnerability had not been preyed on.

bottleofbeer Thu 10-Jan-13 18:14:22

That was my thought too Vagceratops, now I understand a bit more through posts on this thread and how individual plans are put in place but I'm a bit hazy on it in some ways too. When an adult is very severely mentally impaired does it still stand that they are adults and able to consent or would it form part of their vunerability assessments? IE: so and so is incapable of making informed choices regarding sex therefore any sexual activity would be wrong?

AmberLeaf Thu 10-Jan-13 19:09:31

She has a significant learning disability, she's not incapable of sexual thoughts and feelings. Jesus

Really? do you honestly think having a learning disability means you are dead from the waist down?

That is simply not true!

Pigsmummy Thu 10-Jan-13 19:14:28

There is a college, run like a village in the area that I am from, specifically for people with learning disabilities and mentally disabled, there is a birth control tablet included with every prescription because pregnancy was rife, sexual desire is a very basic human function, contraception isn't

McNewPants2013 Thu 10-Jan-13 19:21:32

I don't belive an abortion should ever be forced.

If it is down to medical concerns about the mother, what about other groups. Poor example but if a mother to be has cancer and is refusing treatment to save her unborn child should she be forced to abort because her life is in danger.

LettyAshton Thu 10-Jan-13 19:26:51

I met a woman who was fostering a baby who was the child of two severely learning disabled people. Although it was that rarest of things, the "newborn, white, healthy" baby, not one person on the adoption register wanted it.

Presumably there are other babies like this, who will end up in the care system. Perhaps we should consider them.

BearsLikeMarmalade Thu 10-Jan-13 19:56:13

Bottleofbeer - yes, you've hit the nail on the head, 'mental age of 6' would have been an incredibly over-simplistic and deeply unhelpful explanation. People with LD develop different abilities at different rates, and whilst thinking developmentally can be a useful way of understanding a particular issue for a person (e.g. level of receptive vocabulary), applying age brackets to people on a global basis is pretty much always unhelpful, and not supported by any standardised assessments. Yes, you always assume capacity. That is very clear in the legislation. No-one has to prove that they have capacity in order to be 'allowed' to do something. Assessments of capacity are only triggered if there are legitimate concerns that someone might lack capacity to make a specific decision.

Birdsgottafly's comment about emotional intelligence is spot on (loving your work on this thread by the way). I work with people with LD and very often see greater degrees of emotional intelligence in my client group compared to those without LD.

I think the reporting of the woman as in the "bottom 1%" in terms of intelligence doesn't necessarily help. Most people with LD would score around this level on cognitive tests because they are not hugely sensitive at this level of ability. In actual fact there is a massive range of abilities in different areas of understanding - hugely variable and person specific, ranging from mild levels of LD to severe/profound. Although this woman is reported as being 'severely impaired' in some of the media reports, I think it likely she has mild-moderate LD (technically IQ 50-70 not that IQ is hugely meaningful). I regularly assess people's intellectual ability and their capacity to make various decisions and there does not seem to be a clear correlation between scores on a cognitive test and whether someone has capacity to make a certain decision or not. This is why the Mental Capacity Act is such an important piece of legislation, it ended the assumption of incapacity based on presence of LD. The independent article has some good quotes from the judge on this.

bottleofbeer Thu 10-Jan-13 20:09:26

Thanks for the explanations, you learn something new every day. Although if I'd ever really given it proper thought it's quite obvious that one size doesn't, never has and never will fit all.

I'm going to hold my hand up to my level of ignorance on this; in my mind whenever I see him it's always in the back of my mind that quote "mental age of six" and because I didn't think too deeply about it beyond that I did wonder if it was ok for him to be drinking in a pub - to me it was like letting a six year old go drinking but obviously making allowances for the fact he's now actually 40. Horribly ignorant of me, I realise this now.

It's really so bleeding obvious to me now that LD can mean so many things, and yes, a person might be seriously delayed intellectually but not so emotionally. Socially he's obviously got LD but really, he's got loads of mates and he's well...fine. Bloody funny too!

I see it all rather differently now. Thanks smile

BearsLikeMarmalade Thu 10-Jan-13 20:18:16

bottleofbeer, it would be great if more people could reflect on these issues the way you have smile

bottleofbeer if only all people listened and thought as you do. It is true that the 'mental age' thing gets bandied around. I worked with a young man, 20s who had parents who insisted on telling people he had the mental age of I think 8. He got into a lot of issues with younger women because they were told this. Of course he had the hormones of a young man. Not a good mix.

It is very important to make capacity assessments and decisions based on individual things. You could find that someone has a lot of knowledge and insight in one area and not another. IQ is a terrible measure and so is looking at prior capacity assessments.

mightycheeks Thu 10-Jan-13 21:58:37

Just to highlight that having sickle cell disease does not, in itself, necessarily mean that a woman is unable to have a perfectly healthy pregnancy. This lady has severe sickle cell disease as shown by the fact she has had numerous strokes. Normally after a stroke patients are put on long term transfusion programmes to prevent further strokes by reducing the percentage of sickle cells in the blood. I would be interested to know when she had her strokes. I have known people who have had several strokes as children who have made excellent recoveries. It all sounds a bit odd to me.

bottleofbeer Thu 10-Jan-13 22:01:31

Ah yeah of course, I suppose even if they are seriously delayed in every way their bodies aren't. God that must be such a difficult situation.

mightycheeks Thu 10-Jan-13 22:29:05

You would not know that the majority of people with sickle cell disease even had sickle disease if you met them when they are well! They do have problems with long term organ damage e.g. kidney failure but it varies a lot person to person. It is an inherited condition, in the same way cystic fibrosis is. The most prominent symptom is pain when they get sickle shaped red blood cells sticking in the little blood vessels supplying their organs and bones. It is agonising. Anyway this is not what the thread is about - but sickle cell is something I know about so thought would share smile.

Yes bottle and worse. What if a young woman with LDs wants to date 'normal' boys (her words, not mine)? She doesn't want to go out with a boy from the day centre but a boy down the road. Well, a lot of the boys with no LDs who want to date a girl who has LDs want to because she is vulnerable to abuse; sexual; financial, you name it. She doesn't want to see it but her family is worried to death. She has capacity to consent. He is taking her money, taking her phone. Now, this could happen to a neuro-typical young woman. I would still be worried but not as worried IYSWIM.

Or the man who is low level bullied by his friends at work. They call him Spaz and similar. But, he likes work and them and he gets to go down the pub after work and to the footie with them. They call each other stupid, offensive names as well. Is it abuse, is it OK? Do you challenge or not?

This is why people should be nice to SWs, because when you work in this field these are the things you are awake at 3am thinking about.

Theicingontop Thu 10-Jan-13 23:28:04

Amberleaf, re-read what I said.

Not just sw, my sister is a LD nurse and it keeps her awake at night,

I know a few bloody amazing LD nurses so she is in good company.

I see this case as an example of where the system has worked. Doctors had, I assume, a legitimate medical concern about the health of a patient. Because of the patient's LD they were not clear whether or not she had capacity to understand the possible risk of her pregnancy. The matter was put before the court to determine whether or not she had capacity to decide to continue her pregnancy. The court found that she did.

The doctors were in a difficult position because they can't just act, especially as this isn't an emergency situation, but they can't ignore the fact that a patient might not understand that they are at risk.

AmberLeaf Fri 11-Jan-13 00:19:34

icingontop I was so outraged that I missed the 'not'

sorry blush

HopAndSkip Fri 11-Jan-13 02:08:15

Hmm, it seems like it must be very severe LD to have gone to court rather than her being left to make her own decision though? I agree with OP that it raise's the question of the circumstances she got pregnant in. (As far as I'm aware normally doctor's wont try to legally force an abortion on an adult woman regardless of her health?)

At 18 weeks she's coped a fair way. Hopefully a few more weeks won't make much difference, and they can deliver early without too much harm to mum or baby. Having had a severely premature baby, I don't think abortions should be preformed this far on, never mind forced on a woman.

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