Dalhousie Law Journal


disability, British Columbia, reproduction, parenting, medical control, women, discrimination


Several years ago I worked as a lawyer representing psychiatric patients on the grounds of a large medieval-looking turn-of-the-century mental hospital in British Columbia. Soon after starting my new job I met Ann, a woman who shortly after her admission as an involuntary patient had informed her treatment team that she was pregnant. She had always wanted to have a baby. When she told her doctor about her pregnancy, he decided that this idea was part of her delusional system and prescribed anti-psychotic drugs to control her pathology. In fact she was pregnant and the medication given during the first trimester of pregnancy had teratogenic effects. Now she was carrying a fetus with a disability. The doctors told her that it would be best to have an abortion in the circumstances. She agreed. This client began my thinking about disability, reproduction, parenting and the role of medical control.