My Great Aunt Francis was a flambouyant woman of the sort whose personality preceded her into the room. Everyone, even friends, called her Auntie Francis. Her husband died early in their marriage, perhaps in the war, I don't recall right now, but he left behind a single son, Kenneth.
At a very early age, Kenneth was found to be mentally retarded, in the nomenclature of the era. He could not control his own body. Her friends and some family members urged her to institutionalize him, but Auntie Francis would have none of that, convinced that no one would care for her boy. Living on the inheritance from her husband, she raised Kenneth herself all her life. He was not allowed to go to school, and needed help doing even the most basic things. He could barely talk, and only those accustomed to his slurred vocabulary could understand him. Auntie Francis always knew there was more to him than those who kept telling her to send him away.
When he was in his early teens, someone gave him a typewriter to play with. Instead of gibberish, Kenneth started typing words. To everyone's surprise, except Auntie Francis, Kenneth was literate. Beneath his palsied body was a brain appropriate to his age. He wasn't mentally retarded at all. He had cerebral palsy. The typewriter allowed him to finally express all the thoughts that had been locked away for years.
My mother corresponded with her cousin by letter for the rest of his life. She found him delightfully witty and possessed of a dry humor she adored. She sent him books and magazines and they discussed them.
In today's news, I came upon an article
that made me really think. I have no answer for this situation. The mother of a 13 year old girl with cerebral palsy wants to get the girl a hysterectomy. The parents say the girl would not understand periods, cramps and mood swings. How do they know?
On the other hand, I consider my hysterectomy one of the best things that happened to me. I didn't want children, and it was causing me far too much pain with the endometriosis. The surgeons were overcautious in my case and unnecessarily delayed my surgery because they thought 25 was "too young" for a hysterectomy and I'd regret it when I wanted children. I am not in agreement with the prevailing attitude that women are baby-making machines and that every woman's highest goal in life is to produce a parasite from her loins.
C'mon, people, let's look at this scientifically. Instead of making it an emotional issue about taking away "her right" to decide, what is the real issue?
Looking at it as a practical matter, the parents are probably right: she would be far better off without the monthly cramps and periods. Her doctor should assess whether she could, physically, carry a baby. On that basis, a hysterectomy would be kinder than monthlies. If there is a possibility that, given a treatment for cerebral palsy in the future, she could recover the muscles to make a baby, then refrain.