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Houston, Texas

People discussing health of women with disabilities
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Sexuality and Reproductive Health--Hysterectomy

Sexuality and Reproductive Health Table of Contents

Some believe that eugenetics and general perceptions of women with disabilities as asexual are responsible for the high rate of hysterectomy in younger women with disabilities.

The goals of eugenics have been described as denying women with disabilities the right to bear and raise children to prevent "biologically defective" women from passing on "their defective genes". Eugenics is used against women with disabilities by creating barriers to using obstetrical and gynecological services, sterilization, forced or pressured abortion, keeping men and women separate in institutions, injecting harmful contraceptives, taking away child custody, and turning down applications to adopt a child. Studies have documented that women with disabilities have been admonished for becoming pregnant or encouraged to have an abortion, despite evidence that most women with disabilities give birth to healthy babies.

In a study conducted with about 1,000 women with and without disabilities, women with the most severe limitations in function were the most likely to have had a hysterectomy. Women with disabilities were more likely than women without disabilities to have had a hysterectomy for a reason that was not medically necessary. Often, a health care provider recommended having the hysterectomy. In some cases, the hysterectomy was performed at the request of a parent or guardian. Sometimes the disabled woman herself requested a hysterectomy, however, so that she would not have to deal with difficulties managing menstruation or birth control.

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