Four in ten Community Care readers back Alison Thorpe

Four in ten users believe Alison Thorpe, the mother of a girl with cerebral palsy, should be allowed to decide that her daughter should undergo a hysterectomy.

The results are drawn from a poll on the site last week which attracted votes from more than 200 people.

It emerged last week that Thorpe wanted the operation on her 15-year-old daughter Katie to protect her from the “pain, discomfort and indignity” of menstruation.

She told The Sunday Times: “Katie has an undignified enough life without the added indignity of menstruation. She will not understand what is happening to her body and it could be very frightening for her.

“Katie would be totally confused by menstruation. She could not manage it by herself. She could not keep it discreet; she cannot be private.”

Legal guidance is being sought because Katie cannot give consent but disability organisations have described the surgery as a breach of human rights.

Andy Rickell, an executive director at disability charity Scope, said: “It is very difficult to see how this kind of invasive surgery, which is not medically necessary and which will be very painful and traumatic, can be in Katie’s best interests.

“This case raises fundamental ethical issues about the way our society treats disabled people and the respect we have for disabled people’s human and reproductive rights. Scope is concerned that doctors are supporting parents in this case. If this enforced sterilization is approved it will have disturbing implications for young disabled girls across Britain.”

Writing a blog for Community Care, consultant and Inspired Services director Andrew Holman says a court is the right place for the issue to be decided.

But he adds: “The BBC reports that Alison Thorpe says Katie would be confused by periods and they would cause her indignity. They also wish she could have remained small as it was so much easier to cope with her when she was, lifting her etc.

“This is of course true. Growing up is inconvenient for many of us and stops a lot of childlike activities. It is more difficult when you need a hoist instead of being lifted. But that cannot be a reason not to grow up.”

More information
Read Andrew Holman’s blog



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