Learning to be a mother not possible for the learning-disabled

The Mirror tells us of a mother who is facing having her baby taken away from her after it is born.  Yes, that’s right, the mother isn’t even a proper mother yet and already social workers have decided that she is unable to properly care for the child.  Why?  Because she has learning disabilities.  You know what?  So do I.  Learning disabilities do not mean someone is unable to care for a child.  They mean that someone needs assistance with learning, not that they’re unable to learn.

The fact that social workers have pre-determined that a mother-to-be isn’t qualified to be a mother because of her disability smacks of the legacy of eugenics.  Eugenics was the late 19th, early 20th Century movement that was based on an interpretation of Darwinism to “improve the races”.  One of the things that resulted from this movement was the forced sterilisation of people, mostly women, who were regarded as “imbeciles” on the theory that imbeciles beget imbeciles.  Interestingly, imbeciles were only found among those that society had deemed as unworthy, such as working-class prostitutes or children in orphanages.  In the famous case of Buck v Bell, the US Supreme Court upheld the sterilisation of a woman who excelled in school on the grounds that she was an imbecile (and not at all because she was the daughter of a prostitute).  While eugenics lost favour thanks to the Nazis showing how eugenics could be carried out with murderous precision (It’s worth remembering that the first victims of Nazi extermination policies were in mental hospitals), its legacy lived on, especially in the US where sterilisations continued into the 1970s.

But now we’ve advanced so far!  No one is saying this woman should be sterilised, just that she shouldn’t be given a chance to be a mother.  Because clearly people with disabilities are incompetent mothers.   They can’t possibly have partners or family members to assist them if they do need assistance.  And, social workers can’t assist either.  They’re too busy taking away the child and blaming the mother.


11 Responses

  1. Absolutely disgusting.

    Btw, your possibly related posts has an IBTM story http://feveriam.wordpress.com/2009/04/04/and-they-think-were-crazy-to-stand-up-for-our-rights/

  2. This is absolouley disgusting. Is there anyway we can protest or do activism on this?

  3. […] by anonadoptee Found this at I Blame the Mother Yes, that’s right, the mother isn’t even a proper mother yet and already social workers have […]

  4. Yep, here we go again. Remember when the sosh were going to take away the baby from a pregnant mother who they *suspected* might abuse her because she’d been raped? And how everyone said “but there must be more to it than that” which I bet they’ll say about this case too. Unfortunately, all too often it’s the “must be more…” attitude that allows these things to go on. And yes, she’s an adult with possibly some support needs. So shouldn’t that mean… Oh I dunno, she gets some support?

  5. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8222689.stm yet in India a woman with learning disabilities can get help to look after her baby, conceived through rape…

    support people! support is the key!

  6. Actually – having read the article twice, I’m not even sure she’d need more help than the average mum, they seem like a sweet caring couple. ;-(

  7. Oh jesus. Any idea how we can help?

  8. I do have to wonder if there is way to fight this in court? I know nothing of Scottish law, however, so I have no clue. Of course it would also take finding a lawyer or more which she likely can not afford even if this can be done.

  9. i, too, have “mental illness” and learning disabilities, and i admit that at times i’ve questioned my ability to parent based upon that. BUT a certain level of self-criticism is one thing–even someone close to you offering constructive suggestions in a supportive and non-forceful way is one thing. but a stranger (your government!) deciding you’re unfit and stopping you from getting married or keeping your child because you have learning disabilities is quite another.

    the other thing that bugs me here is that she and her partner shouldn’t have to defend how great a decision it was and how super prepared they are. even if we make the more judgmental assumption that her decision to become a mother at 17 was a stupid, ignorant one…guess what? as a human being, she’s entitled to make decisions that others might perceive as stupid and ignorant, or even decisions that (*gasp*) she herself might come to regret. in any case, it was her decision to make, and in the eyes of strangers and certainly the law, the relative wisdom of that decision should be completely irrelevant.

    and to the extent that there is even any problem to be solved here, forcibly removing her child isn’t even close to being the solution–as ruth said, if they think she’s got support needs, how about offering some support? perhaps in a way that doesn’t completely dehumanize her?

  10. […] are not cis, if you are not well-off (forget being on public assistance of any kind), if you are disabled or have a history of psychiatric diagnoses, if you are “too young”, if you are […]

  11. […] are not cis, if you are not well-off (forget being on public assistance of any kind), if you are disabled or have a history of psychiatric diagnoses, if you are “too young”, if you are “too old”, […]

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