Uttar Pradesh’s draft population bill has an ableism problem

Source: The Indian Express

Relevance: Population control measures have to be rational and focus on the welfare-based approach


Apart from UP’s population policy’s coercive approach to population control, it plays into the widely prevalent notion of the disabled as a burden.


new draft Bill prepared by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Law Commission seeks to control the population by introducing a two-child policy.

Read moreSudden interest in ‘population control’ in Assam and UP points to political bad faith 
Provision of Disability in the draft bill:

Section 15 of the draft Bill grants exemption to certain classes of individuals from the two-child norm.

Section 15 lays down that, “… an action of an individual shall not be deemed to be in contravention of the two-child norm under this Act if either, or both, of his children born out of the earlier pregnancy, suffers from a disability and the couple conceives a third child subsequently”.

The Bill draws from the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 to define disability. There are 21 conditions listed in the Act. These include impairments like visual, hearing and speech, locomotor, intellectual disabilities as also blood disorders and learning disabilities like dyslexia.

Read more: Why UP’s proposed population control bill is bad as policy and politics
How the bill views disability?
  • The bill invokes an ableist mindset and tends to view the disabled as non-existent and equivalent to being dead. It reinforces the belief of disability being a curse.
  • The bill also infuses the notion of incapability or incapacity of all persons with disabilities while underlining that having a disabled child is as good as not having one at all.
  • It is no coincidence that Section 15 of the draft Bill is titled, “Of Death or Disability of Child”. It equates the two.

The way disability is dealt with in the draft Bill shows a complete lack of understanding of what constitutes a disability, as also its heterogeneous status. It reflects sadly on how the state views persons with disabilities.

Read more: Population populism: UP draft population bill fails tests of necessity, intrusiveness

How the bill stack up against the UN Convetion?

  • The UP draft Bill is in complete contravention of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
    • The UNCRPD in its preamble emphasises mainstreaming disability and “respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity”.

Among the few other states that have legislated a two-child norm, Rajasthan adopts an approach similar to the UP draft Bill. The 2017 Assam population policy also advocates a similar position.

The UP draft Bill and other such approaches seek to codify and institutionalise an ableist mindset. It stigmatises and devalues the disabled as lesser beings.

Read more: Population control measures in India – Explained, pointwise 
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