Mother who had son castrated wants her day in court

Sandra Crockett able to pursue countersuit against B.C. public guardian

A women who had her severely mentally disabled son castrated is disappointed that her case won't be heard in a British Columbia court.

The province's public guardian sued the doctors and hospital who did the operation on behalf of the adult son. On Wednesday, a judge agreed to let the case be settled out of court.

Sandra Crockett's son is 26 years old, but the brain damage he suffered as a baby left him with the mental capacity of a four-year-old. He cannot be identified by court order.

Crockett consulted a team of doctors in Nanaimo, B.C., and had her son sterilized when he was 21.

She decided castration was the best way to control his increasingly aggressive sexual behaviour and protect him from someday ending up in an institution or having a child taken away from him.

Crockett and doctors also said he had some pain in his testicles.

Provincial authorities claimed the operation was disfiguring, demeaning and unethical. Their lawsuit cited a 1986 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that prohibited non-therapeutic sterilization without the individual's consent.

Crockett wanted her reasons for sterilizing her son to get a full airing at trial, but she said the province would rather settle it quietly.

Other parents looking at case

"I feel that's what they want done so that parents and doctors will be too scared to try this again, even if they do feel it's in the child's best interest," said Crockett.

Crockett, who now lives in New Brunswick, said other parents with mentally disabled children are looking to her fight for guidance.

She said she will pursue a counterclaim against B.C.'s public guardian. She said she will try to prove castrating her son was the right decision.

Susan Ludwig, an Ontario nurse who has taught sexuality to the mentally disabled and their parents for 15 years, said educating disabled people about proper behaviour will solve the problem, not sterilization.