Too dumb to be a mum?

Many stories like this (this one from the Mirror; h/t Velvet Martin) out there.  Does anyone know the legislative basis for these interventions in the UK?  One prong in many pieces of eugenics legislation was “incapable of parenting”–the other was “prospect of transmission of mental defectiveness”.  So this makes you wonder how far we are from that eugenic past.

On Mother’s Day.. the heart warming story of a girl who had to fight for the right to bring up her own child

Kerry McDougall with son Ben (pic: John Power)

Strolling along the beach, her young son in her arms, Kerry McDougall prepares for the perfect Mother’s Day – one that last year she could only dream of.

For 12 months ago tiny Ben was in care and Kerry’s life was in tatters – after social workers deemed her both too stupid to look after her son AND not even bright enough to wed her fiancé Mark.

Ben was just three days old when social workers marched into the maternity ward where Kerry was breastfeeding and took him away.

It was the start of a long, heartbreaking battle to become a proper family.

Read more:


4 thoughts on “Too dumb to be a mum?

  1. In England and Wales it is probably the Mental Capacity Act 2005, and for the child the Children Act 1989, Children Act 2004. However, the article says this case is in Fife, which is Scotland and has its own jurisdiction (as NI). So I’ve basically no idea. Sometimes law mirrors England and Wales, so it is worth doing a search for those terms narrowing it to Scotland.

  2. What sort of law would decide that Kerry McDougall is too dumb to be a mother? Just because she has a mild learning difficulty, how can they deem her as unfit to be a mother? Kerry has the right to happiness and a future to have a family. Why don’t social services go after those abusive parents that abuse, exploit and neglect their kids to the point of endangering their lives and well being? These sort of parents are the real dumb ones that are unfit to be parents. However, it is great to know that Kerry fought for her rights and get what she finally wanted and I am touched at how much she loves her child more than the world itself.

  3. thanks alison for the suggestions.

    whatsaysyou: i think people don’t realize what laws there are on the books that give social services, medical practitioners, hospital staff, and others, amazingly strong powers over parents, and how such laws often reflect aspects of the eugenic past, such as the connection between parenting and “smarts”.

    and a belated hat-tip to velvet martin for bringing this story to my attention.

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