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.