Four Corners - Walk in Our Shoes
This program explores the fraught issue of whether, and in what circumstances, disabled people should be sterilised.
Does a woman with the mental age of a two-year-old have the right to bear a child? Or should she be stopped - for her own protection and that of the potential child? In this emotionally compelling documentary, the people at the heart of the sterilisation debate - disabled people, their parents, their carers - speak with remarkable candour about their experiences, frustrations and dilemmas.
Producer Janine Cohen meets women who have been sterilised without their consent or even their knowledge, sometimes under the guise of an appendectomy. Today they rage against what they see as an abuse of their basic human rights.
Talk to the parents of profoundly disabled women and you get a completely different picture. To them, it's a matter of saving their children from their own actions, and preventing a traumatic upbringing for a potential grandchild.
In the last two decades the legal pendulum has swung away from sterilisation in favour of the rights of disabled people to bear children. These days it is guardianship boards or the Family Court, not parents, who decide if sterilisation is in order. But experts tell Four Corners that the system is failing. A senior judge speaks out about parents and doctors evading the system by undertaking illegal sterilisations. In his language it's criminal assault.
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