‘You don’t know what its like to wake up every morning and see an empty cot’.
These words bring to mind mothers who have had a stillbirth or a miscarriage. We do not think of those mothers who have given birth to a live baby and returned from hospital without their baby. Mothers with an intellectual disability (ID) more than any other mothers, are more likely for their baby to go into the foster care system.
Despite the changes to inclusion for people with disability since the 1980s, mothers with ID or any type of disability still remain stigmatised and subject to social scrutiny. Social attitudes that believe those with disability are not entitled to develop sexual relationships and have children, like their non-disabled peers, still permeate our society. This is evidenced through many Australian national and state policy documents. Women with disabilities are omitted from the 2011 National Maternity Services Plan, and many disability-based documents overlook those with disabilities who are parents as well. Until we change this discourse at the policy level, how can we expect our culture and organisations to reflect this?
However, at the National Women’s Health Summit, held in Sydney on March 2nd, women with disability were included as a priority group. The National Women’s Health Summit 2018 Priorities Draft Document released on International Women’s Day acknowledges the importance of catering to women with disability in hospital maternity units. It is only through inclusion of women with disability in all aspects of life that we can change the conversation and fully embraceinclusion.
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians
National Women’s Health Summit
Media release from RANZCOG on the disability stream of the NWH Summit-