Ontario Ministry of Health reverses course on guardianship requirement for disabled woman giving birth
In a major reversal of the Government’s original announcement, the Ministry of Health has reversed course in its determination that a disabled person who has given birth would be medically unable to care for herself or herself should she become incapacitated.
In 2013, after it was announced that a woman who became incapacitated after giving birth would not be required to be looked after, the government introduced a new procedure for assessing the ability to care for oneself postnatally. The change, introduced following a series of cases in Canada and the United States in which disabled women became mothers, required that a woman with an intellectual disability or multiple disabilities give birth in hospital to a healthy child without assistance.
However, after several deaths of pregnant women in the province, it was revealed that the procedure did not prevent the mother or child from dying. As a result, the government changed course again, this time in respect to the disability requirements for those who become mothers. After it was announced that parents of any child who were unable to look after themselves or their children would be required to sign a document acknowledging that they would give up that right, Minister of Health Eric Hoskins decided it was necessary to amend the legislation to ensure the government’s original intent was honoured.
Over the last several months, numerous individuals with disabilities and people with an intellectual disability have become moms, and the news stories in the media have drawn attention to the plight of those who can’t take care of themselves or their children because they become pregnant. The need to ensure that mothers and newborns are not left alone in the event of a pregnancy has been highlighted throughout the world, as have the risks involved for women who become incapacitated. This prompted the development of a new procedure by the Ministry of Health to determine whether a woman who has given birth and then becomes incapacitated would be required to be checked on in the event of an incapacitation.
The new procedure, which was adopted on June 1, will take