In a ruling that has divided doctors and disability organisations, the Family Court has granted the parents of a profoundly disabled Queensland girl permission to have her undergo a hysterectomy.

The 11-year-old girl, identified only as Angela, has Retts syndrome, a neurological disorder which affects development. She cannot talk or use sign language, and is unable to stand up unsupported. She suffers from epileptic fits, which her parents believe are brought on by her menstrual periods.

The court agreed that a hysterectomy would be in Angela's best interests, stating in a written ruling that it would improve her quality of life.

But the case has reignited the debate about the rights of disabled young people.

Therese Sands, executive director of People with Disability Australia, said: "It is our view that nobody has the right to sterilise a child - not a judge, not a parent, not unless it's a matter of life or death."

Carolyn Frohmader, chief executive of Women with a Disability Australia, said: "It is only ever the disabled girls. When you go through the cases, there is never a boy, no matter how intellectually disabled, who has to be sterilised."

But Mark Patterson, from the National Council of Intellectual Disability, cautioned against kneejerk responses.

"Sometimes people get the idea that families just do this as a matter of convenience," he said. "I think we need to ... have some care and respect for the families and the judges involved."

Angela, whose behaviour is said to resemble a 3-month-old baby's, began menstruating at 9 years old. Her mother told the court that her epileptic fits appeared to be provoked by her periods.

Other treatments had not helped, and three leading gynaecologists testified that the best course of action was a hysterectomy.