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The Reproductive Rights of the Developmentally Disabled The Reproductive Rights of the Developmentally Disabled Sterilization of the developmentally disabled or the mentally retarded is an issue that has long been debated in America Mental retardation is defined as the inability to learn normally and develop mentally Traditionally in America if a mentally retarded person was born to a family that family had 2 choices- take care of the child at home or it was strongly recommended that the child was sent to a state run institution or hospital The state institution was where this person would spend his or her entire life Unfortunately these hospitals were often huge warehouses of people with disabilities or mental illnesses These hospitals offered no contact with the community to the people that lived there and were often poorly run and patients were over medicated and sometimes abused The sterilization of persons with mental retardation began as a method of birth control in state hospitals and was carried on with the idea that the mentally retarded will not be able to care for their children or that they will produce more mentally retarded children A mentally retarded person exhibits a low level of intelligence and impaired adaptive behavior Biomedical specialists typically view retardation as the manifestation of an impaired brain Other experts emphasize the importance of social and cultural influences in defining retardation proponents of this viewpoint consider intelligence relative depending on the social setting Farber 21It should be noted that in the past children of unwed mothers and immigrants were often labeled as mentally retarded as well The majority of people though that do have developmental disabilities are only considered mildly retarded and are able to function in society having the ability to hold jobs and develop and maintain relationships and live independently if they have access to education and the community Early in the twentieth century the plight of the metal retarded was
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