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to be sitting on the fence with regards to the sterilisation of this lady with learning disabilites

(205 Posts)
tomhardyismydh Tue 15-Feb-11 11:16:13

My ethical judgment tells me this is very wrong, but my moral and practical understanding of this situation tells me it maybe in her best interest.

what are others views, wishing not for this thread to turn out to be a bun fight.

Im thinking about the absolute rights of this woman and any further children she may have.

HecateQueenOfWitches Tue 15-Feb-11 11:17:36


tomhardyismydh Tue 15-Feb-11 11:19:27

will try but listening to it on victoria derbyshire.

kreecherlivesupstairs Tue 15-Feb-11 11:19:30

I think you are correct tomhardy. It is similar to the man who is banned from having a sexual relationship because of his IQ.
With regard to the woman, I think rather than whip everything out, she could be given a long lasting contraceptive. The only down side is she wouldn't be protected against STDs.

Memoo Tue 15-Feb-11 11:21:05

It's hard to comment without knowing the full story. What are her disabilities?

tomhardyismydh Tue 15-Feb-11 11:24:23

only link bloody daily mail

JaneS Tue 15-Feb-11 11:28:44

Well that link doesn't really say much!

I think there have been other cases where minors were forced to have surgery in their best interests, and maybe if she is child-like in her judgments that would be the parallel?

Glitterknickaz Tue 15-Feb-11 11:32:04

It's quite sad really that it's considered necessary. Shame those that would be predatory towards her can't be dealt with instead sad

StarlightPrincess Tue 15-Feb-11 11:34:32

What I'd like to know is where the support and care was for this woman before she got pregnant?

Memoo Tue 15-Feb-11 11:36:54

Jesus, have you read some of the comments on there!

tomhardyismydh Tue 15-Feb-11 11:37:49

I think thats true also Glitter, but she may also be having consentual sex with someone with her peer group, which would not be seen as predetory.

the link does not say much from my understanding, this lady has a severe learning disability which is deemed so far to affect her ability to consent to this "treatment", in that case my understanding is that her ability to consent to having sex should not be classed the same.

There fore supporting her and protecting her from sex would be very difficult.

If she unable to consent to sterilisation she would be unable to fully understand and consent to other forms of contaception and her long term ability to manage this would be very difficult, so it could be argued that sterilisation may be the best option.

the problem with this case is that the high court is holding it with limited public access. I belive it should be allowed to opened up to a wider debate.

wannaBe Tue 15-Feb-11 11:43:55

here's another link

I have mixed views on this.

On the one hand perhaps it is ethically wrong to make that decision on behalf of someone else.

However, it is said that she is incapable of looking after a child, therefore if she has a child, it will presumably be taken from her (and we don't have any information as to whether she has immediate family who would be willing/able to take on any children she might have).

Essentially this woman has already been told that she will not be allowed to have children. The difference here is that if she is not sterilised, she could still carry children, then have to go through the trauma of having them taken from her at birth, assuming she has the mental capasity to even realise that's what's happening.

And what of the children? Is it right that children be allowed to be born into the world knowing that they will all have to be taken into care and potentially adopted?

Isn't it better that steps be taken for there to not be any babies in the first place? Sterilisation is permanent. Presumably her disabilities are too.

I'm not sure why administering a temporary contraception would be different really, and a temporary contraception could have other side effects.

If she is sterilised, she won't have to have follow-up appointments to ensure that her contraception is working/for it to be re-administered etc.

I also have splinters in my arse from trying to reason this out. I'm assuming that the people in the know have very good reasons for asking for this, and that the judge will only agree to it if he's convinced. Bloody glad it's not my job, though.

tomhardyismydh Tue 15-Feb-11 11:47:28

Thanks for that link wannabe.

HecateQueenOfWitches Tue 15-Feb-11 11:48:18

Did you read this bit? "There are at least two ongoing cases where local authorities want judges to sever or curtail access between a parent and son or daughter who lacks capacity. In both instances there have been acrimonious disputes between the parents and health workers over treatment."


That is bloody terrifying! So they can go to court to try to ban you from going near your own child if you dare to challenge them?

My god.

JaneS Tue 15-Feb-11 11:48:23

But sterilisation is quite serious surgery, isn't it? And could have side effects too?

wannaBe Tue 15-Feb-11 11:49:01

I think it's right that she be granted anonimity.

If she has severe learning difficulties then she would presumably have been assessed to have the mental capasity of a child, meaning that she would essentially be treated as a minor.

Also if she doesn't have the comprehension level to understand about consentual sex/contraceptive, then equally she wouldn't have the ability to comprehend the levels of media attention, and potential for recognission by members of the public once her name and picture made it on to the front pages of any press..

wannaBe Tue 15-Feb-11 11:50:32

no sterilisation isn't serious surgery if done in conjunction with a caesarian which is what this woman is having anyway.

SoupDragon Tue 15-Feb-11 11:58:06

Presumably the c-section is being done without her informed consent too so is sterilisation really that bad?

I'm trying to think what I would want if she were my daughter. If there was never a chance for her to be able to look after her own children, I think I would want her sterilised to protect her from that. It won't stop her enjoying a sex life.

Acanthus Tue 15-Feb-11 12:26:11

I think she should be sterilised. She can
't consent to a sexual relationship, in law, though she is plainly having sex. She is incapable of caring for a child. I can't see any benefit to her in having a child that she can't care for - let's be honest, childbirth isn't a lot of fun in itself. I can't see any benefit to anyone else in her having a child, either, so the best thing for her and for everyone else is sterilisation.

wheredidyoulastseeit Tue 15-Feb-11 12:27:23

if she's having consensual sex without the capacity to understand the consequences then it seems a kindness to manage her fertility for her. nobody would wish a baby onto a primary school age child.

AlmightyCitrus Tue 15-Feb-11 12:40:50

When I had my first baby I was in the maternity ward with a woman with learning difficulties. She was like a little girl with a new doll. It was apparent that she wasn't entirely sure how she got pregnant in the first place. (Her mum said that she had been "taken advantage of) After several days of "training" from the midwives she was able to provide basic care for her baby (bottle feeding, nappy changes, bathing although she was still supervised while doing these things when I left 10 days later).
She was in quite a state from the birth too, I don't think she could follow the midwife's instructions properly during her labour and birth, and ended up badly torn and had loads of internal and external stitches and she needed extra care to make sure she kept herself clean and free from infection.

From what I gathered she lived alone, but her mum popped in and out, although she was quite frail so I don't know how they would of managed long term.

I often wonder what became of them, and how the baby boy turned out, if he stayed with his mum or ended up in care.

I'm pretty much on the fence about this myself. I'm not sure about the enforced sterilisation, but (dependant on individual circumstances) maybe sometimes it might be for the best if some women were prevented from having children,

kreecherlivesupstairs Wed 16-Feb-11 09:42:48

blush just read the daily mail that she already had one child which is being cared for by her parents, and they are willing to have this one too.
The mother of the individual, quite rightly IMO, said they can't keep picking up the pieces.
Tragic all round and I've revised my initial opinion and now feel she should be sterilised.

Ooopsadaisy Wed 16-Feb-11 09:51:29

I think the sterilisation should be performed during the c-section as proposed by the mother.

I am very sorry for all concerned, but feel it is best.

What an awful situation.

duchesse Wed 16-Feb-11 09:55:41

There are issues regarding mental ability to give informed consent. Where a person does not have the ability I believe that it is legitimate to deal with them as though they were a child (do they apply a Gillick-style competence test to learning disabled people?).

My personal feeling is that sterilisation is a step too far- it is enforcing life-changing and potentially life-threatening (due to GA) surgery on someone for non-medical purposes which I would imagine would be ethically quite difficult.

My personal feeling is that some long-lasting contraceptive like the implant would be a better option, and easier to explain to someone with limited cognitive abilities.

Of course the other issue is how she is getting pregnant and whether she has the mental capacity to give consent to sex, or whether there is some degree of coercion/abuse. Only her family and carers will be able to assess whether she is fit in that respect.

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