Illegal Sterilizations Continue, Women's Group Claims
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 29, 2003
HOBART, TASMANIA--The disability rights group Women With Disabilities Australia believes that hundreds of young women and girls in Australia are being sterilized illegally, the Mercury reported Thursday.
One official said the government is likely paying for some of the surgeries, which are being coded as "appendectomies" for Medicare billing purposes.
WWDA claims the problem is a social issue, made worse by a lack of government support for families.
"The denial of a young woman's human rights through an irreversible medical intervention with long-term physical and mental health risks is wrongly seen as the most appropriate solution to a social problem of lack of services and support," said WWDA executive director Carolyn Frohmader.
"While decisions are often made on the basis of the presumed best interests of the girl or woman, clarification of whose best interest is really at stake is necessary when the consequences are lifelong and irreversible."
Frohmader said sterilization could make girls more vulnerable for sexual abuse and could be used to cover-up abuse because there was no pregnancy as evidence.
Official data collected for Australia's Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission showed 1045 girls were sterilized -- operations paid by Medicare -- from 1992-97. Only 17 of those were legally authorized.