Disability, Abortion, Eugenics, Pity

Here is a compilation of posts and messages I’ve made on stuff related to disability, abortion, eugenics, capitalism, and pity. Many are responses to articles.

Response 1: Ableism at its finest. I am pro-choice, but I am extremely critical of choosing abortion based on ableist reasoning. Where this was posted on Facebook, many people made comments that supported the doctor, saying he was doing his job, that raising a downs baby is hard and he was being realistic with her. But this mentality is part of the problem. Disability is defined by society as “burdensome” and “pitiful”, and eugenics becomes disguised as compassion. Many people also said that not everyone is emotionally, financially, or physically able to take care of a special needs child. I pity people who justify their pity towards disabled people. Your heart not being big enough to love and have a disabled child is due to two possibilities: 1) society brainwashed you into thinking disability is a bad thing, or 2) you’re just a shitty human being to begin with. Both of those options should require you to reevaluate your priorities. It is true that it won’t be easy, but no parenting is. And even if you have a child with typical development, there is no guarantee that your child won’t become disabled in the future. And it shows where society needs to be more accessible. I know it’s financially expensive, but this is a human rights issue, and I think a healthy society should have all the support systems for its disabled members. A life should not be seen as a financial burden. Perhaps another strike against capitalism, in my book. I commend this mother for recognizing her child’s humanity, and disabled lives matter and deserve to exist, and that the medical system needs to change its attitude about disabled lives and disabled babies. People can claim she’s just attention hungry and looking for her fourteen minutes of fame, but this is a bigger issue than that. It’s not about her. It’s about the fact that disabled lives are seen as inferior and that people think disabled lives shouldn’t exist.

Response 2: Abortion rights, eugenics, and disability have an intersection I wish didn’t exist. Pro-choice advocates often use eugenics-based arguments to get people to understand disability. Because, “who would want to be disabled?” “Having a disabled child is hard, for the parents and the child.” But it’s more of a societal problem. Society uses eugenics, pity, evolution, etc. to stigmatize disabled people. Society doesn’t provide the resources for disabled people, of all severities and kinds, and that’s what’s actually hard about taking care of a disabled child. Worrying about medical bills (because we don’t have universal healthcare), worrying about your child’s ability to be independent (because being independent is part of the American Dream we are brainwashed with, and is related to the idea of being “a productive member of society”), and so many other things. Society doesn’t provide the resources that would make it possible for parents to “have the heart” to care for a disabled child. There are articles and videos going around about the zika virus and other similar disabilities, and they’re about abortion. Whether it’s trying to show that most people support aborting these disabled individuals, or trying to show how “hard” it is to have such a child, the point is saying disability is a valid reason to abort a fetus. I’m pro-choice, but when disability is brought in, I can’t fall for that. I’d be a hypocrite. I’d be saying some lives are worth more than others. I’d be saying some lives are worth living more than others. It’s shameful that supposedly feminist circles bring disability into their pro-choice argument. That’s not getting at the real problem. The problem isn’t disabled children, but the ableist and capitalist society we live in.

Response 3, I wrote a response to this article last December, and it touches a little on abortion of “non-viable” fetuses, such as life-threatening variations: This article goes over some of the history of how disabled people have been (and are) treated, from sterilization to extermination. But it’s not just history with Nazis killing disabled children, but in recent history too. As mentioned in the first part of this article, a mother (and godmother as an accomplice) pled guilty for involuntary manslaughter for killing her autistic son, even though her actions were premeditated. That event occurred in 2013. In 2014, a mother in the U.K. was granted the right to end her disabled daughter’s life. One thing I’ve noticed with disability is the pity that non-disabled (and disabled) people experience towards disabled people. Pity in extreme form is deadly for disabled people, because instead of just pitying their livelihoods, they pity society for the “burden” the disabled person apparently places on it. Instead of feeling disgust about how disabled lives are being treated, there are more people who feel sympathy for these mothers who wanted to kill their children. Believing these mothers, and society, are better off with these individuals dead is eugenics. Eugenics-based practices also include trying to find cures for non-life-threatening disabilities and aborting fetuses found to have a high probability of being disabled (again, for non-life-threatening ones, like Downs Syndrome, where the child is not expected to die in womb or in the first year of life). People most affected by these practices are those with intellectual disabilities, developmental disorders, mental disorders and mental illness, and visible physical disabilities. Please think twice about how you feel and react towards disabled folks. Because discomfort and pity can lead to more extreme forms (of oppression).

Response 4, in response to an AJ+ video: I think the French lack the word “ableism”. There are too many layers to this, and French culture and translation might be off, but by saying the two are incomparable, the message still seems to be that it’s worse to have Down’s Syndrome than to be black. Comparing two groups’ oppression maybe shouldn’t be done, but I don’t know the best way to make a group’s oppression be understood without the language that comes out of other oppressed groups. Borrowing, co-opting, and appropriating are quite common, even in activist circles. It’s considered unfathomable to consider aborting a fetus because the child will be black, as that is racist and fucked up, but it’s considered reasonable to abort a fetus because the child will have Down’s Syndrome, because disability is bad. I think that’s the message the reporter was getting at. Also, eugenics affects people of color and the disability community, and abortion is one of eugenics’ tools. —> More thoughts: Disabled black people are who we should be listening to on this topic due to their intersecting identities in this conversation. I am white, so I can’t speak to this too much. What I see with this video is that the reporter was trying to say it’s ableist to abort a fetus because the child will have Down’s Syndrome, with lack of appropriate language, and AJ+ oversimplified and dramatized the situation and perpetuated the message that disability is bad and worthy of abortion.

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