ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Human Concern or Convenience-Debate on Hysterectomies of Mentally Handicapped

Debate on Hysterectomies of Mentally Handicapped Nagmani Rao Sarita Pungaliya THE mass hysterectomies conducted at the Sassoon Hospital, Pune on mentally handicapped (MH) inmates (aged between 13 and 37 years) of the state run home in Shirur, the stay on these ordered by the chief minister after strong protests by health activists and women's groups and the almost unanimous condemnation of this pressure by pro-establishment medical professionals, generated a heated debate. The media projected these as the 'pro-hysterectomy' and 'anti-hysterectomy' lobbies. While the episode jolted many of us, it was obvious that there are no simple solutions, clear-cut, black and white answers to the questions raised Partly to understand the various aspects of the problem and partly to clarify our own confusions so as to help us take a rational, just and honest stand, we decided to meet a cross section of persons in Pune and discuss the event and its implications with them. Those whom we met included women and health activists, a lawyer, parents of the mentally handicapped, a nurse, professional medicos (including a psychiatrist), persons who have been involved in working with/ training the MI I and a few friends We also closely followed the debate as projected through some English and Marathi dailies The following gives an overview of the impressions gathered through these as well as from reading on the subject of sexuality, contraception, marriage and social alternatives for the MH.

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