Forced sterilization and disability in Australia

From a “better babies” competition, 1913


A Senate committee was recently established in Australia to review existing law and social policy concerning the sterilization of people with disabilities.

It seems that the inquiry is a response to public response (surprise? outrage?) to finding out that this practice continues in Australia under state and territorial legislation, and beyond it.

I suspect that the commission will find that the practice extends significantly beyond the terms of the legislation in place, that children under government care are disproportionately sterilized, and that there is strong parental support for keeping some form of the legislation in place.

See also the recent Australia Broadcasting Commission story

which also links to the following interesting 3-minute audio-clip from former chief justice of the Family Court, Alistair Nicholson.  h/t to Rob Sparrow and Karen Bland for giving me the heads up on the news coverage here.

Part of what is interesting is how the story is headlined from the main ABC page where you’ll find the story–in terms of “his opposition to a push to outlawing sterilisations of disabled people”, whereas that doesn’t strike me as accurately capturing the heart of his comments:

There’s also a transcript of this podcast available further down on that same page.

If anyone has links to current legislation in place here, please add in the comments or send along separately.  And what do you think about this?  Reproductive rights, equal treatment, social policy, and individual choice.

3 thoughts on “Forced sterilization and disability in Australia

  1. Pingback: Contemporary practices of sterilization in Australia « What Sorts of People

  2. Recent story: But it somehow manages to cast the issue chiefly as a controversy within the disability community about the law, not really having much to say about the fact that the Senate inquiry is about the extent to which putatively coercive and perhaps illegal sterilizations have been performed on girls and women with disabilities in Australia over the past 10+ years …

  3. Pingback: Forced sterilization of Women and Girls with Disabilities in Australia: the WWDA submission | Living Archives on Eugenics Blog

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