Maternity & Handicap: quite a challenge

A disability is no barrier to maternity. (Ines Friedrich /
A disability is no barrier to maternity. (Ines Friedrich /

Many women with a disability decide to become a mother. Being a mum is never easy. With a disability, it is even a bit harder.

Kerstin Weiß has been mother for 17 years and bears strong nerves. No wonder, with four children. She is a founding member of the Federation of disabled and chronically ill parents bbe e.V. Like all other employees, Kerstin Weiß is also affected by disability herself.

Desire for motherhood

The mother of four has been wheelchair user since her paraplegia. At 25, she decided in spite of their disability to have children. "17 years ago, it was anything but natural that a woman with a disability has a child," says Weiß. Unfortunately, that has not changed so far.

Hurdle parental assistance

In 2009, the right to parental assistance is not statutory. It is the arbitrary decision by the individual case handler to ensure this. "Enforcing the necessary financing of the assistance services is the biggest problem that mothers with disabilities face", says Weiß. Even the financing of necessary equipment is not regulated by law. Compulsory insurances only cover aids that are required by the mothers themselves.

Estimated figures

Despite all these financial difficulties, many women in Germany and Switzerland with disabilities decide consciously for maternity. "There must be at least 50,000 women with disabilities in Germany, according to our internal estimates", says Kerstin Weiß. Official figures do not exist. Neither the number of women with disabilities nor those of the disabled mothers are statistically recorded.

Situation in Switzerland

According to Angie Hagemann from Avanti Donne, there live about 225,000 women with far-reaching impairment in Switzerland. How many of them are mothers, is not known. Mothers with disabilities in Germany and in Switzerland need to be born fighters. "The insurance coverage is generally unsatisfactory. In particular, a disabled woman might be worse-dispositioned by a pregnancy. In addition, there is a psychosocial pressure to justify the decision", explains Hagemann the situation of disabled mothers in Switzerland.

How does she do it?

How can all these financial and social hurdles as a mother with a disability be handled at all? "You have to be persistent and enter objection again and again ", advises Kerstin Weiß. Until her youngest child turns 12 years old, she receives financial support for assistance for her children, thanks to much self-assertion. And then? "Then, the children are big enough. Then, they must be able to do everything by themselves, "says Weiß with a cynical tone of voice.

That's right!

Kerstin Weiß never wants to do without her well-organised extended family ever again. Every woman has the right of maternity. Every woman has the right to bring up her own child. And every woman who has the desire and the ability to be a mum should be supported the best possible. Legally, financially and socially.

Text: MHA