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date: 22 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Parents with disabilities face widespread obstacles arising from social attitudes about disability. Yet having and raising children is highly valuable for many people, with or without disabilities. Common stereotypes are that people with disabilities are less fit than others to be parents and that their children are likely to have worse lives than other children. These stereotypes are reflected in the history of eugenics, in sterilization laws, and in legal decisions about custody and parental rights. Yet justice requires that people with disabilities have access to a fair share of resources to pursue their aims and projects, which may include having children. Parental fitness must be assessed without bias and with the recognition that parenting may be performed in different ways, including adaptive strategies and accommodations. Parents with disabilities can provide special benefits as well, including bonds of proximity, greater patience and self-reliance, and compassion for others.

Keywords: disability, custody, eugenics, sterilization, nondiscrimination, adaptive parenting, parents with disabilities, accommodations, Rawlsian justice, justice as fairness

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