I am commenting on this story. As a disabled woman I have been interested in the intersections of sexuality and disability for a long time. There are so many barriers beyond the physical when disabled people want to express themselves sexually. One of the biggest barriers is that it is still widely believed that disabled people are inherently asexual. This misconception not only leads to difficulties in being accepted as sexual beings but also places disabled people at a significantly higher risk of sexual violence (if a person is perceived as nonsexual their is an assumption that they are immune to sexual advances).
So what happens when a disabled couple expresses their sexuality and that sexuality produces a child? In the case of Ontario coupe Maricyl Palisoc and Charles Wilton (who both have Cerebral Palsy), They were told even before the birth of their son that he would be removed if they could not find 24 hour able-bodied care for their son.
This brings up a couple of questions. Why were these two people designated as unfit parents before they were even parents? and what constitutes able-bodied? As regards the former both parents have Cerebral Palsy which limits motor function and speech. Neither parent has any cognitive delays. Charles the father’s capabilities have not been discussed but Maricyl has been described as capable of breast feeding, bathing and diaper changing on her own. A family friend and activist who is paying out of pocket for attendant care so that Charles and Maricyl can keep their son, considers the couple perfectly capable of caring for him.
So onto the second question. Who is able-bodied? Maricyl is currently capable of meeting her son’s needs but is considered unfit? This seems counterintuitive. She is able to care for him but is not able-bodied.
Other concerns are why this decision was made before the child was born and the couple’s competency could be assessed and why the decision was to remove the child from the home rather than considering ways of providing support in the home?
For me this is just horrible and just another example of how Canadian society stigmatizes and disadvantages disabled Canadians. Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms all Canadians are supposed to have equal benefit of the law and that the government is duty bound to ensure those benefits even if they have to spend money to do it. However disabled people are continually thrown under the bus. As another example disabled people are supposed to be able to immigrate to Canada but are currently automatically exempted under the same exemption for suspected terrorists. We are first and foremost a burden and anything else we may be is overshadowed by that.
The government and its agencies would rather walk over people rights because putting and infant in foster care is assumed to be cheaper than leaving it with its family because disabled people are assumed to be unfit and it is only through the help of outsiders for providing the required attendant (for which the money will most likely dry up) that this couple is getting the chance to prove otherwise.