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The Eugenic Legacy for Parents with Disabilities

Melanie Moore, an AEBC member, was recently interviewed on CBC radio concerning parenting with a disability. You can click this link to listen to this excellent interview.

One of the main points I take away from the interview is that disabled parents are faced with the default assumption that they will be unfit parents. It is only after disabled parents prove that they are capable that they are permitted to be parents. Melanie was scrutinized in ways that most parents are not, and she was permitted to leave with her child only after proving herself capable; and all of this despite the fact that it was her third child.

There is a dark history of this sort of assumption leading to dehumanizing treatment of disabled people in Canada, particularly in my home province of Alberta. From 1928 to 1972, sterilization legislation was in place in this province, and this led to nearly 3000 people being sterilized by the provincial government. One justification for the legislation was that disabled people would pass on their so called "defects" to their offspring, but the other equally important justification was that disabled people were incapable of parenting.

Unfortunately, the mistaken and harmful assumptions that motivated eugenics in Canada and elsewhere still persist today. I'm hopeful, though, that as people like Melanie speak publicly and challenge and break down such assumptions, our right to have and raise children will be recognized and respected.

Disclaimer:

This blog is curated by the AEBC, but welcomes contributions from members and non-members alike. The thoughts, views, and opinions expressed in the Blind Canadians Blog are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the AEBC, its members, or any of its donors and partners.

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