When the disabled body and the handicapped self are inscribed as deficient and dependent, disabled people are aligned with other social groups perceived as needing supervision, assistance, and guardianship. The idea of autonomy and independence, central to most psychological definitions of healthy adult selfhood, is premised on the presumption of physical independence, of a self that embodied its own freedom in its very movements. In the absence of such bodily autonomy there is little basis for assuming any other forms of autonomy; hence disabled people who have limited independence of movement are also often subject to limited independence of decision-making and self-governance. Disability rights activists point to several important areas where the ideas of bodily-based autonomy have infringed on the basic civil rights of disabled people, including the right to make one’s own decisions about sexuality and reproduction, the right to equal access to education and employment, and the right to vote.
– Mary Klages, Woeful Afflictions: Disability and Sentimentality in Victorian America, 1999, pg 3.