Volume 14, Issue 3, July 2014
Kevin Todd Mintz
Sexual Intimacy, Social Justice, and Severe Disabilities
Should Fair Equality of Opportunity in Health Extend to Surrogate Partner Therapy?
The 2012 film The Sessions tells the story of a man with polio who loses his virginity by undergoing Surrogate Partner Therapy (SPT). In light of ensuing controversy surrounding the legal and moral status of SPT, this article uses Norman Daniels’ framework of fair equality of opportunity in health to argue that SPT is a legitimate form of treatment for sexual dysfunctions and should be evaluated alongside other such treatments. I begin by showing how sexual dysfunctions constitute deviations in normal species functioning. I then show that sexual capacities are a matter of fair equality of opportunity because they affect the ability to cultivate the sexual intimacy that is crucial for forming a family and often necessary for maintaining a healthy one. Recognizing that some might object to SPT as a form of prostitution, I proceed by showing how the treatment might avoid some of the objections raised against prostitution, and conclude by affirming that societies committed to fair equality of opportunity in health should work to make SPT legal and safe.