Should mentally ill people and criminals be sterilized?

For 25 years I have been best friends with a woman I’ll call “Tracy.” Tracy is 35 years old, and she has Down Syndrome. Tracy is high-functioning, as is her longtime boyfriend, “Tyler.”

Amy, they have been together for five years. They have lived together for the past three years, and recently announced their engagement. Everyone on both sides of their families is happy for them — at least we all thought so.

Since Tracy made the announcement a few months ago, their families and I have been getting questions and comments about it that are so rude, stupid and downright ignorant, it’s not even funny. A brief example:

“It’s nice you’re letting them play pretend like that.”

“Is it going to be legal? I mean, since they’re like, not right in the head?”

“You had them fixed right? Otherwise you’ll be stuck raising another one.”

“Why are you letting them get married? I mean, they’ll just forget.”

 There have been other comments, but those are the more polite ones. When referring to the couple, they use a slur for intellectually disabled people.

Amy, both Tracy and Tyler have jobs, they can balance their checkbooks, and yes, they know what sex is. They live in a one-bedroom apartment, and neither of them is sleeping on the couch.

Basically the only thing they need help with is transportation, as neither of them drives.

Between both families, some kind co-workers and friends — it all works out.

How do we respond to theses idiots?

I’m seriously about to slap some people and trust me, I ain’t the only one! Help!

— Tracy’s Friend


I scored a window seat on my morning commute, unfolded my paper to my favorite advice columnist, and began to read. When a stranger set next to me, she was on a call and it was clear she was talking to a child and was politely reprimanding them or walking them through a crisis. I tried to reengage in my article, but her tone was firm yet calming. So, I found myself listening in as she stated “The world doesn’t have to like you. Your goal is respect yourself and do your best.” There were a few moments of silence as the invisible person on the other end spoke. She retorted “I love you. I have to get to a meeting. Don’t forget your skates.” I looked over and smiled. I notice right away she had Down’s Syndrome. She politely smiled back while her eyes shifted to my paper and her brow furred. Before I could look or respond, I was at my stop. I excused myself. In my office I noticed the headline and then I read the article. I found myself angry for the mother on the bus and was bewildered that sterilization is still happening in this millennium. To refocus myself I figured I would finally read my advice columnist (talk about a serendipity moment). I exhaled and thought this would be a great “What would you do question?” for my students. Should mentally ill people and criminals be sterilized?



This entry was posted in Clinical Supervision and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Should mentally ill people and criminals be sterilized?

  1. Discoverecovery says:

    It absolutely baffles me that there are still people in society who believe they have the right to decide or judge who is and is not fit to be a parent. I know plenty of people who are not mentally ill who are questionable parents (to say the least) meanwhile there are plenty of people out there who have mental health conditions who are wonderful parents.
    Sterilizing someone simply because they have a condition such as Down Syndrome is not only inhumane, but it is a huge violation to the outcome of that individual’s entire course of life. Denying someone the ability to have a child if they so desire is wrong on so many levels.

    Liked by 3 people

    • msw blog says:

      When I come across issues like this I think of a quote I once read “Stop Allowing Your Own Insecurities to Color the Way You Interpret Someone Else’s Intention – Unknown”. Thank you for reading.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Omg how awful. People are just terrible.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. No-one else has to undergo a fit-for-parenting test; many people with Downs Syndrome are more capable and intelligent than others who don’t have their physical characteristics. I would make both those points – as I have before

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pure Glory says:

    No one has the right to judge another. Many people who look fine on the outside are horrible parents. Criminals and those with Downs’s Syndrome are not disqualifies from parenthood. This is prejudice of the worst kind. The people who want to sterilize others should be sterilized themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

Please Leave Your Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s