The group who defend the rights of the disabled make the astonished assertion that a better solution could have been found to deal with a sexually mature person who lacked the capacity to learn or restrain himself.
Lawsuit highlights ignorance of Rights of People with disabilities
A lawsuit against a woman who arranged for her disabled son to be castrated highlights problems with our society's attitudes to people with disabilities, says a UBC professor emeritus who made pioneering strides in the field of educating children with disabilities.
"The fact that a mother and doctor together could not come up with an alternative to castration speaks volumes about our society's attitudes toward people with disabilities, the lack of support we provide to parents of children with disabilities, and the lack of education we offer to professionals who sometimes encounter people with disabilities in their work," says Sally Rogow.
Rogow is a retired professor of special education whose accomplishments include developing a teacher-training program whose graduates now work with children with disabilities the world over. More recently, she created the concept for The Person Within, an award-winning video and training program designed to broaden understanding of abuse often experienced by children with disabilities.
In a news article about the case in question, filed last month in BC Supreme Court, Sandra Crockett is described as a loving, single mother who devoted her life to caring for her brain-damaged son. However, as he matured physically, the reporter wrote, his hormones "got the better of him" and he was "sometimes violent." In 1997, his mother arranged to have him castrated.
"We don't for a minute endorse the mother's actions," says Rogow, who is program director of The Person Within. "However, we have to look at them in context. What support and education were available to this mother while she was raising her son? What were her fears regarding the consequences for her son if he became violent? Were they grounded in experience of prejudice against people with disabilities? Who was available to discuss this decision with her in an informed way? What information was she given by doctors, social workers, or other professionals?
"We are not absolving the mother of responsibility," says Rogow. "Yet this situation highlights social attitudes that lead us to believe that people with disabilities don't have the same rights as others, or that other people's rights take precedent."