Friday, October 12, 2007

Australians Condemn Medically Unnecessary Sterilization

9 October 2007

For immediate release


Two Australian disability advocacy and human rights organisations are outraged by moves by a UK mother to have her 15 year old daughter sterilised to prevent her from menstruating.
The mother’s decision, reported in today’s Sydney Morning Herald has received support from her local hospital even though it is recognised that the hysterectomy procedure is not medically necessary.

Mr Robert Farley, President of People with Disability Australia (PWD) said that “sterilisation of children for no medical reason is a procedure that no child, parent, medical practitioner or court of law can give consent to”.

“If this was a child without disability there would be community outrage at this human rights abuse”, Mr Farley said. “Why are children with disability considered to have lesser or no rights compared to other children?”

Ms Annie Parkinson, President of Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) pointed out that “sterilisation procedures are often sought for girls with disability as way of preventing menstruation and pregnancy, rather than addressing medical concerns or emergencies”
“Sterilisation, if performed without medical need, is a gross violation of human rights”, Ms Parkinson stated. “Grave health risks such as early onset menopause, osteoporosis and cardio-vascular disease can result from sterilisation of girls before they begin to menstruate, or in early puberty”.

Ms Parkinson went on to say that there were many personal stories told by women with disability who were sterilised without medical need as girls, many considered incapable of providing informed consent. As adults, they have understood fully what sterilisation means, and many have developed serious physical and psychological health conditions and face lifelong negative consequences in developing and maintaining general wellbeing.

PWD and WWDA pointed out that sterilisation of people with disability without medical need is prohibited by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities which was agreed to internationally in December 2006. It also goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

They argue that children with disability and their families need to receive flexible and responsive support services to assist them to manage menstruation, pregnancy and reproductive issues. These supports do exist and have been shown to work effectively, but more effort needs to be made to ensure that families know about them and are able to access them.


For more information, contact:

Therese Sands Carolyn Frohmader
Co-Chief Executive Officer Executive Director
People with Disability Australia Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA)

Ph 02 9370 3100 Ph 03 6244 8288
Mobile 0412 935 128 Mobile 0438 535 123
Email: Email: