Intro - History - Issues - Rights - Resources - Service
Negative community attitudes remain the main barrier to full inclusion of parents with a disability in mainstream Australian society. Many people base their bias on negative assumptions such as that people with disabilities will give birth to children with disabilities. In fact, in the majority of cases, this is an unfounded myth. Genetic appraisal can make a determination as to the likelihood of a disability being biologically transferred to a child.
While sterilisation without consent is illegal in Australia, women with disabilities can find they are pressured into termination of pregnancy, even if the foetus only has minor abnormalities. This practice, known as Eugenics is where pregnant women undergo genetic appraisal to determine if the foetus is a viable life.
The issue of Eugenics is not confined to people with intellectual disabilities. People with physical, sensory and psychiatric disabilities can find they are confronted by it. Professionals, relatives and friends may encourage the procedure based on the belief that the couple will not cope with bringing up a child. When the foetus is mildly abnormal, this allows them to justify applying pressure to terminate.
One important reason for these negative attitudes is that few people come into regular contact with people who have a disability. Able-bodied people, who know a person with a disability, often do not have enough knowledge to express their belief that the family with a disabled parent can manage successfully as parents.
It is this Ignorance which can lead to negative human reactions such as "…animosity, antagonism, apprehension or charity." (Fuller, 1996).