Special-needs and choice


On the site of late there have been a great many posts and debates in regards to what is "ethical" in regards to the reasons a woman might not choose to continue her pregnancy. Being firmly pro-choice, the reasons, for me, generally do not matter except to work to ensure that some of the reasons that are negative to women and families are addressed. Reasons such as domestic violence, poverty, lack of education or access to contraception are in dire need of attention- but in the end what matters is that the woman still has the right to decide if she wishes to continue a pregnancy or not.

 One of the reasons a woman might choose to abort a wanted pregnancy that seems to come under fire a great deal is if there is fetal defect. With the advancements in prenatal testing  the date of finding out there may be a serious issue has been pushed back- but so has the time that a fetus might be considered viable with medical advancements. Many conditions that might not have been treatable in years past have a better outlook, yet there may be less of a chance for births of children with these conditions to take place since advance knowledge may lead to the pregnancy being terminated.  So therein lay the conundrums of what conditions are "severe" enough to be "accepted" as reasons to abort. People melodramatically cry out strawmen of eugenics and playing god, but why should anyone have to justify their decision? Why, indeed.

 Even fourteen years ago when I was pregnant with my second child prenatal testing was nowhere near the accuracy of today. As a twenty-three year old woman with one healthy child already there was no reason for me  to have an alpha fetal protein test; there was a high rate of false-positives and the risks involved in a later amniocentesis at the time were greater than the chances of there being something detectably wrong. So it was when my daughter who is now thirteen was born with Down syndrome it was a complete and total shock. (I suspect, however, the military hospital where I had prenatal care suspected something, nuchal fold measurements were taken more than once, something I now know to be a marker for trisomy 21.) An Air Force colonel wearing BDU’s beneath his lab coat dropped the news to me like an atomic bomb.

I wished my child had been stillborn. I thought about giving her up for adoption if my then-husband agreed. What did we know about trisomy 21? These are the things they don’t talk about when people gloss over reality by talking about "trips to Holland" and "god giving special children to special people." I sure as hell didn’t feel special. I felt betrayed, angry. I mourned the loss of the child that could have been, and still do. I can’t imagine what it is like for someone to lose a child, and I would never demean their grief by saying they can "get over it" or "move on". Yet every day in the back of my mind that mourning is still there, because I know my beautiful little girl will never have the same opportunities that a "normal" child would. There is no "moving on". There is acceptance, and love for the child you have. There is advocacy and trying to live a normal life.

 The thing is, these feelings are the norm for parents of disabled children. It’s just not spoken of. We’re supposed to have this united front, this smile and acceptance of what life has thrown our way. We’re supposed to pretend to the outside world  that we never would have wanted anything different for our children. Pardon the French, but bullshit. If I could "take it back" somehow, I would. Nature, in its wisdom, doesn’t intend for conceptions with trisomy to survive. Most embryos with chromosomal anomalies are shed. Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, is pretty much the only survivable triplicate chromosomal disorder  with the exception of sex chromosome duplicates. It is estimated that probably 2/3 or more  of conceptions with trisomy 21 are miscarried. 

I love my daughter with every fiber of my being. Yet I cannot say that had I it all to over again, had I known of the Down syndrome, that I would have continued the pregnancy that resulted in her birth. This outlook doesn’t win me favors in a lot of DS communities, but it is reality. If someone like me who has a disabled child can say they would not have chosen this experience, after having our wonderful children, how the hell can we EVER condemn a woman who knows she is unable to take on this burden for herself before there is even a child brought into the world? How "bad" does it have to be for it to be "ok" for her to recognize that she cannot cor will not be able to deal with this reality?

I know to many this will sound terribly selfish. Perhaps it is in some ways. But it is also humanitarian in others. When I was pregnant with my third child, there was a chance he had a chromosomal disorder- trisomy 18. This is a disorder incompatible with life. Most fetuses die in utero; if not, ninety percent of those that make it to term die within a month of birth. They do not attain any meaningful consciousness. Would this have been "bad" enough to warrant a late term abortion? I was prepared for this when I awaited the results of the amniocentesis. Would it have been better for me to birth a child that had no chance to live, for my other children to have a brother who would die?

I’ve rambled on I’m sure, and deviated from the original point, or perhaps not. The thing is, none of us have the ability to know what is going on in any woman’s head when she makes her choices. None of us have the ability or right to decide what she can or cannot endure, or what constitutes quality of life.  Nobody can step into her shoes and decide if her reasons are "good enough", or if it is "right" or "wrong" to make a decision based on her perceptions are for the fetus’ later life. I love my daughter… but I would love for her to have a chance for a normal existence as well.

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  • progo35

    Realist,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I have to ask whether you have done any research on Eugenics as a philosophy, or if you are basing your argument on what you’ve heard others say about the connection beteen a termination based on disability and eugenics? Because there is a big difference. Moreover, what, to you, does "taking a trip to Holland" refer to?

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • therealistmom

    I do thank you for phrasing your question in such a polite manner though, I know based on your shared stories this is a topic close to your heart.

     What I mean by a "strawman" is not that in and of itself, choosing to not continue a pregnancy based on a disability is not in any way similar to eugenics philosophies. To someone who believed in the "purity" of human genetics and wishing to ensure the "perfection" of the human genome, who wanted to ensure resources were spent only on the "worthy",  terminating a pregnancy with a signifigant defect would not only be desirable but a necessity. This I personally believe to be an immoral viewpoint, (I know some would call me hypocritical at this point, but I see a large difference between a personal decision based on specific circumstances and a worldview that completely marginalizes those who are different) but my personal morals can’t be taken into consideration for another woman and her decision making.

     So what I do mean by it being a strawman is that some hold it up  to mean that if we permit women to make this choice that it will eventually become either state mandated or encouraged as a matter of course, that people who DO choose to continue their pregnancy will be stigmatized because they are doing something against a percieved common good. I have enough faith in humanity in general, and a feeling we learned from the past (our own nasty history of enforced sterilization in the United States of the "unfit" being just one of the lessons learned) to believe that it’s a terribly slippery slope to go from personal choices to a societal view encompassing and enforcing "fitness" as an ideal.

    As far as "going to Holland", I just found the metaphor trite. While in some ways yes I get to see a new part of the world, it doesn’t change the fact that "Holland" will never have everything that Paris does, and it makes me hurt not for me the tourist but for one who will never be able to experience Paris.

     I hope this made some kind of sense- I’m on my first cup of coffee. :)

  • progo35

    Thank you, realist mom. I will reply back with more later.

    quot;Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    It looks like the first person’s comment regarding this post was deleted. Is this blog for real discussion or are the moderators engaging in censorship?

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • marysia

    RealistMom, I can genuinely appreciate the difficulties of living as a disabled person in this culture. I am multiply disabled, and my daughter has ADHD. So I can relate to some of the things you are saying. It can be overwhelming at times. My daughter is in college now, raising her son, and doing well, but how well I remember dealing with a hyperactive teen when some of my own disabilities are so fatiguing!

    However, as a disability rights advocate, I cannot accept that prenatal detection and destruction of humans with so-called “defects” does anything to promote our human rights, before and after birth. I think this phenomenon completely undermines our efforts as disabled people to create a more hospitable world for ourselves–and for nondisabled people, too.

    Eugenics is no straw man. Disabled people deal with its fallout every day. For example, the eugenic notion that disabled people who cannot work gainfully do not deserve prompt, generous public financial support–if any.

    That’s why today it’s such a big pain in the butt to get social security disability. I am on year two of waiting for a judge’s hearing on my case, to get a $700/month check–when corrupt companies instantly get these huge bailouts. Money talks, doesn’t it? Greed-besotted corporations are deemed more valuable in this country than my sacred life or those of other disabled people…that’s a legacy of eugenics, which was tied to a brutal version of capitalist economics.

    If I wasn’t married to someone who was employed steadily and wanted to stay married to me, I’d be out on the street. That’s what happens to some disabled folks waiting for their soc. sec. cases. This is a *survival* issue, just as being a disabled fetus and escaping prenatal destruction and then entering the hospitable world one deserves is a survival issue, just as creating a complete social safety net for all people with disabilities and their families is a survival issue.

    Current barriers are directly traceable back to the eugencis movement, which originated in the US and *then* spread to Germany. When Hitler was in jail, he avidly read *American* eugenicists. I’ve researched and written on the subject, and today’s issues are direct descendants of historical ones.

    The main difference bewteen now and then is that eugenics appears in the guise of personal choice and liberty rather than widescale social engineering–but the overlooked thing is this. It is a eugenically shaped society that creates the dilemma of “abortion or ELSE” for those pregnant with disabled fetuses.

    During the early twentieth century, before disabilities could be detected prenatally as they are now, there were eugenic proposals that disabled babies be killed with the new technology of death penalty through electrocution. As if they were criminals. These infanticide proposals resurfaced in the 1970s and 80s–but then under a rubric of “parental choice”– but luckily the Baby Doe regulations put a damper on them.

    During the early 20th century uproar over eugenic infanticide, the great social work pioneer Jane Addams spoke out strongly against against it, as strongly as she spoke out against the death penalty and war, as strongly as she sought to alleviate the root causes of abortion. She said this to overwhelmed parents of disabled children–she sounds so much like the present-day disability rights movement (despite some of her outdated word usages):

    “You think you have a child unlike other children; you are anxious that your neighbor not find it out; it makes you secretive; it makes you singularly sensitive; it places you and the normal children in your family in a curious relation to the rest of the community; but if you find out there are many other such children in your city and in…the United States, and that a whole concourse of people are studying to help these children, considering them not at all queer and outrageous, but simply a type of child which occurs from time to time and can be enormously helped, you come out of that particularly sensitive attitude and the whole family is lifted with you into a surprising degree of hopefulness and normality.”

    *This* is the sort of consciousness, in updated form, that will win and secure human rights for disabled people at all stages of life. Really, how is the use of prenatal tests to shut us out of our rightful places in the world compatible with such a vision?

    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • progo35

    I have also done research indicating many of the similarities Marysia points out between today’s climate of abortion based on handicap and what is now known as the eugenics movement. Like I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, people have prejudices, and the most effective way to justify prejudice is to re-cast it into some form of compassion or humanitarianism, which is one of the main things that abortion based on prenatal diagnosis and eugenics philosophy share. I would also like to reiterate that eugenics need not be imposed by the state. As Marysia points out, eugenics can take the form of a personal choice as well.

  • sayna

    Congratulations! This thread has been Godwin’d! Yours is a particularly bad mistake, because Hitler actually outlawed abortion and shut down birth control clinics.

    By some yard-sticks, Adolph Hitler might have been labeled as "pro-life". He was outspoken in his opposition to abortion for German women, seeing them simply as the breeders for the Aryan master race he envisioned. While abortion had been widespread in Germany prior to the rise of Nazism, Hitler issued a law which made the act of helping in an abortion a penal offense.

     

    After promising in Mein Kampf to "to do away with the idea that what one does with one’s own body is each individual’s business," Hitler campaigned for an increased birth rate among German citizens, offering government loans to newlyweds, with abatements for each child produced.

    [...]

    However, Hitler’s "pro-life" attitude did not extend to non-Aryan peoples, nor to Aryans deemed to be less useful in German society. He began his eugenics campaign by having the "imperfect" elements of German society-the mentally and physically handicapped-forcibly sterilized.

     [...]

    How could a government justify two divergent policies on abortion? How is it that abortion could be prohibited for some and mandated for others? The answer is, sadly, quite simple. The government was not required to explain: the citizens of Germany allowed themselves to become the tool of Hitler’s will. The people abrogated their rights and responsibilities as individual moral decision-makers and allowed their own choices to be supplanted with those of the Fuhrer. With this information, can the freedom of choice over abortion in the United States be blindly compared with the Holocaust of World War II. The answer is simply no.

    [Source]

    • emma

      You so thoroughly kick fundie ass, Sayna! I love you! :-P

  • sayna

    As Marysia points out, eugenics can take the form of a personal choice as well.

    This would include disabled people or people at risk for passing on genetic disorders who decide to use birth control or have a vasectomy/tubal ligation in order to not have children. Are they evil eugenecists? Are they oppressing themselves? Or are disabled people not allowed to make reproductive choices?

  • therealistmom

    This is where I was trying to go and failed. The fact that people make these decisions for what they deem to be humanitarian reasons (is it being ‘evil’ to not desire to pass on Tay-Sachs or cystic fibrosis?) may in its purest definition be ‘eugenics’ to some, but does it necessarily make the choice wrong?

  • invalid-0

    In the US it was contraceptive type measures, such as sterilization, that were used for eugenics. Abortion was illegal.

  • marysia

    Sayna,

    I brought up Hitler’s reading material *only* because many Americans think of eugenics as a Nazi invention, when in fact it was very much homegrown and it spread to other countries, especially Germany.  Edwin Black’s book War on the Week among other sources makes this quite clear.

    Americans often do not discern the legacy of  eugenics in the present because there is a great amnesia about the eugenic past.

    I am *not* trying to say anything crude and rude like "prochoice equals Nazi."  So don’t pin that on me. 

    I am oldy-moldy and have probably known about this history you detail since before you were born!  

     Banning abortion for Aryans and forcing them on Jews, Poles, and other people Hitler deemed inferior had nothing to do with respect for unborn or any other kind of human lives.  Banning contraception for Aryans and not for the deemed-inferior groups didn’t either.  It was all about the Nazi scheme for domination.

    Anyone who is truly prolife or prochoice today is not about that at all.  I am simply pointing out that the US has a very much homegrown eugenic legacy that women and disabled fetuses are still very much up against today.

    And by the way–if I remember correctly, you are vegetarian? So am I, as I think I have said before.  Well another myth about Hitler is that he was a vegetarian.  he dabbled sometimes in veg meals, for reasons of his health supposedly, not at all for reasons of concern about animals.  But he really wasn’t a vegetarian–he eat meat a lot.  So that claim against vegetarianism can be put to rest too.

     A non-purveyor of Hitler myths,

    Marysia

     

    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • marysia

    Sayna, sheesh…I am multiply disabled, the mother of someone with learning difficulties, and a disability rights advocate.  I believe that disabled people have as much right to have sex how they want with whom they as any other consenting adults.  And as much right to choose or not choose parenthood, through nonviolent/nonabortion means as any other human being.  I have spoken out for these rights.

    Disabled people are constantly bombarded with cultural messages that we are asexual and incompetent to be parents.  In the not too distant past, *in this very country*, as part of eugenics we were sexually segregated in inhumanly run institutions and forcibly sterilized in large numbers.  Especially when we were poor and/or people of color.

    Now, a disabled person might make their decision not to seek conception based on self-hatred stemming from these internalized prejudices.  That doesn’t mean they’re an "evil eugenicist."  But their decision is definitely and unfortunately shaped by the legacy of eugenics. 

    I am all for sex education that encourages everyone, disabled and non-disabled alike, white folks and people of color, straight and LGBT, to make decisions from a position of self- and other- love and respect rather than internalized prejudices of any sort.

    Now, from a position of self- and other- love, a disabled person may very well still decide to contracept and not have children, or more children.  I know because I have been that person, surprise!  After going through one real roller-coaster of a very high risk pregnancy, I decided *not* that I was eugenically unfit to repoduce further or unfit to be a mother.  But that due to the specific disabilities I have, I did not want again to incur the risks myself or expose any unborn child I might conceive to them, if it could at all be avoided.  So I had a tubal ligation when I was 27 years old.  It was not a decision based on eugenics.

     

     

    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • progo35

    Sanya,

    When you use the example of a person with a disability or genetic disorder getting sterilized or using birth control in order to not pass those disorders on, you assume that disabled people view their “disorders” as something bad that they wouldn’t want to pass on; that we don’t want to bring children into the world, and that we are eager to go and get sterilized. How about the fact that even in this day and age, disabled people are often regarded as non-sexual creatures who do not have erotic interests? This is a serious problem.

    Your own example indicates a belief that getting sterilized or having an abortion if one is disabled is the moral thing to do, and that not doing so is backward or immoral. It is important to remember that eugenics is a philosophy, not just a science. The idea that disabled people are better off not born is an idea that drove the eugenics movement.

    Lastly, Sanya, you intentionally linked the word “evil” to those disabled people who, you presume, would like to go an get themselves sterilized so as not to beget more people like themselves. Neither I nor Marysia have said anything about people being evil. Indeed, the very thing that makes these ideas so attractive is that they seem to make sense on the surface, so that good people embrace them, thinking that they are doing the right thing.

    Please do not disregard the concerns of disability activists by citing “Goodman’s Law.” It indicates a lack of training in diversity issues related to disability and an unwillingness to acknowledge any connection between a current practice and those of people or policies that we now recognize as wrong. It is also not a law, but a way of backing out of an argument when one cannot think of anything better to say.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    I also wanted to say that I will get back in a bit with some of my research on eugenics for everyone’s consideration, but I need some time to put it together.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • marysia

     

    This is all true. And although American eugenicists were divided on the question of what they called "lethal means"–the following practices, which *they* put under this rubric.

    Some eugenicists openly, and some not so openly advocated abortion for eugenic purposes. Some performed abortions. 

    Some advocated killing newborn babies at birth for eugenic purposes–and even did this openly, as documented in the book The Black Stork. 

    Some proposed rounding up  "criminal elements" (read: poor and/or of color) in society and subjecting them to the gas chamber (which was originally invented to euthanize unwanted stray animals).

     This was all before anyone ever heard of Hitler or Nazis.  And it was in the good ole US of A.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

    • invalid-0

      I have yet to see any proof for abortion being defined by them under a rubric that includes gas chambers….the quote below from the Black Stork, which is quoted below, did not put abortion in this particular rubric but instead put it under the different rubric of contraception and brain surgery.

  • invalid-0

    Curious – The Black Stork documents illegal abortions?

  • invalid-0

    and the use of contraception for eugenics too?

  • progo35

    Anon-look for yourself:

    http://www.amazon.com/Black-Stork-Eugenics-Defective-American/dp/0195135393/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1240009991&sr=1-1

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    P.S. Abortions have been legal for medical reasons in various developed countries, including the US, since the 19th century, so abortions performed by doctors for eugenic purposes, either in the US or elsewhere, were not done illegally, because the law made an exception for those cases, or such cases were ignored by law enforcement, depending on the situations. Yes, the black stork does document sterilization and the use of contraception in the US for eugenic purposes, as do many other books and websites. Margaret Sanger herself supported eugenics, as you must know.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Health and life exceptions yes…but pre-natal diagnostics back then?

  • progo35

    No, abortions were performed on people who had or were suspected to have a disorder or condition that could be genetically inherited. So, they didn’t know whether or not the fetus in question was disabled, they did it on the suspicion that it was.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Do you have a source that abortion was implemented as a eugenic measure in the US?

  • progo35

    Give me some time to access my research and I’ll see what I can come up with.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Sure, I know this is an important topic to you as I’ve been on another blog with you.

    I did a search in the Black Stork and, perhaps I missed it, but couldn’t whats laid out above.

    I did find some references to abortion such as how one of the doctors at the time thought birth control, abortion, sterilization and brain surgery were all preferable to killing.

  • progo35

    Right, that quote refers to Dr. Haiselden, who refused to operate/presurred a woman to withhold medical treatment from her baby because it had obvious disabilities, although the baby’s life could have been saved with the surgery. The actual quote appears on pg. 84 and reads, "Haiselden considered birth control, sterilzation, abortion, even brain surgery as preferable to killing. But unlike most earlier eugenic publicists, Haiselden promoted the death of defectives as a necessary back up measure at least until better methods were more widely adopted." Ie, Haiselden would have supported legalizing abortion so that "defective" women would abort their "defective" fetuses that would develop into "defective" children. If he were around today, he would certainly support/be happy about women ending pregnancies today when they learn that the fetus they are carrying is disabled in some way.
    More later…
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    I just want to say that opposition to terminating a pregnancy based on special needs does not constitute a lack of sympathy for the difficulties that parents of special needs children encounter. Yet, I am firmly convinced that the pain and anguish experienced by disabled people and their families is primarily caused by social prejudice and mistreatment because of it, not the disability itself. And, such terminations only feed into and validate that problem, they don’t alleviate it.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Thanks Progo35….I’m not going to debate you on what he would or would not believe today on abortion, birth control, brain surgery, etc….I just didn’t find support for the claims as they were already made in the other posts above.

  • progo35

    Anon-

    I wasn’t necessarily intending for that quote to by my answer to your question about abortion as a tool of eugenics, I was just responding to the quote you cited. I’ll have to do some more research and then post again.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Point taken. Although I agree with RealistMom I also appreciate some of your advocacy…I sent you a note on youtube.

  • sayna

    Why bring up eugenics in general though, if not to compare abortion rights to an idea that most people deeply disagree with and consider evil? Why compare the choice to bring children into the world or not to genocide? It may not have been your motive to insult the pro-choice side, but your comparison sure made it seem that way!

    I am oldy-moldy and have probably known about this history you detail since before you were born!

    Ahhh, that sweet pro-life condescension. You can almost taste it.

  • sayna

    [...]due to the specific disabilities I have, I did not want again to incur the risks myself or expose any unborn child I might conceive to them, if it could at all be avoided. So I had a tubal ligation when I was 27 years old. It was not a decision based on eugenics.

    You were comparing a person’s choice not to have a disabled child to eugenics. I and others in this thread have pointed out that it’s probably more of a will not to bring a life into the world that will suffer and that they cannot care for. Did you happen to dig your head out of the sand to think for one moment that people just don’t want to pass on a genetic disorder? Or that they might have good intentions? Why is it akin to eugenics when they choose not to have kids but not when you do?

     

    I’m not saying and I have never said that life isn’t worth living disabled, or that disabled people are inherently miserable. It’s just that some people–like yourself–would rather not bring a child into the world with a severe disability. They don’t want to have a child just to see him/her struggle and have themselves constantly struggle to support him/her.

  • sayna

    you assume that disabled people view their "disorders" as something bad that they wouldn’t want to pass on; that we don’t want to bring children into the world, and that we are eager to go and get sterilized.

    I said absolutely nothing of the sort. You and Marysia have missed my point entirely. It’s almost like you’re trying to turn it around on me and say that I’m insulting disabled people. It’s almost as though you are intentionally changing the subject and ignoring what I said in order to sidetrack the conversation and make me look like the bad guy.

     

    I know very well that the majority of disabled people don’t see their disabilities as bad or horrible. They’re living with them and coping just fine. What I’m getting at is that it seemed you and Marysia were painting them as self-hating eugenecists if they decided not to have children. You both tried to paint the decision not to have a disabled child as invalid and wrong. Some people–and this includes people of all levels of physical and mental ability–siimply do not want to have children. Some people can’t cope with a special-needs child or don’t want to pass on something that they know causes great suffering. This doesn’t make them self-loathing or bad.

    Your own example indicates a belief that getting sterilized or having an abortion if one is disabled is the moral thing to do, and that not doing so is backward or immoral.

    Nonsense.

     

    I’d use a stronger word than that, but I would like to keep the conversation civil. I did not say a single thing like that. Being pro-choice, I believe that the decision is best left to the individual. Some people want children, others don’t. Some people could care for a special needs child, others couldn’t. I don’t believe in forcing someone either way.

    Lastly, Sanya, you intentionally linked the word "evil" to those disabled people who, you presume, would like to go an get themselves sterilized so as not to beget more people like themselves. Neither I nor Marysia have said anything about people being evil.

    No, you’ve opted for the much more subtle method of comparing them to Hitler.

    Please do not disregard the concerns of disability activists by citing "Goodman’s Law."

    Protip: You can at least make it look like you’ve paid attention to your opponent’s posts and links by taking the time to spell things out correctly. My name would be a great place to start.

    It is also not a law, but a way of backing out of an argument when one cannot think of anything better to say.

    Nazi comparisons? Exactly! So stop making them and apologize when you’re called out on them.

  • invalid-0

    Eugenic measures by the state included marriage laws to restrict passing on traits. Sounds like eugenics is getting defined broadly above to incorporate the personal level where it would also include picking ones mate based upon characteristics one finds attractive versus unattractive (e.g. the traits, whether conscious or subconscious, that we desire for our children).

  • marysia

    Sayna, apologies, that was not my intent, to sound or to be condescending…Maybe if we were having a face to face discussion, it would be easier for us to understand and listen to the other.

    As for the continuing relevance and effects of eugenics, both Progo35 and I address this in  post further on. 

     

    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • therealistmom

    This is going to be in some ways oversimplifying my viewpoint, and in some ways rambling, so I’m asking some indulgence here for everyone who has been participating and making thought provoking posts. (First cup of coffee again!)

    The difference to me between “eugenics” and “personal choice” (and remember, this is a personal opinion, not a definition) is the difference between the doctor giving the woman accurate information about the nature of the fetus’ disability to include not only the risk factors and prognosis but also the positives (ie, their chances for living a happy life, I know that sounds trite but I’m having a hard time coming up with a better phrasing), and saying, “Your potential child has this wrong with them. You should abort.” Choice gives people all of the options, shows them current advocacy and medical treatments, encourages research, and provides support for whatever option the woman chooses. Eugenics takes us back to the times of denying medical care to infants that might survive with assistance and telling new parents to shunt their developmentally disabled infant into an institution and tell people it was stillborn.

  • invalid-0

    and just to make myself clear…its not just about whether it was an accepted tool but about the rubric as defined above that I didn’t find support for. The quote from the book actually seems to contradict the way the rubric was framed above regarding abortion.

  • progo35

    I think realist mom gets closet to understanding what I’m saying about eugenics, prejudice, etc. Like Marysia and I have pointed out, eugenics is a philosophy, not just a state policy that started around the 1920s. It is quite possible to internalize the outlook that is common to eugenics:”my child would be better of not coming into the world than coming into the world disabled” without it being required. Unfortunately, the majority of women facing a special needs diagnosis experience the very thing that realistmom points out as being bad:”your potential child has this wrong with them. You should abort.” Very few doctors actually remain neutral in delivering this news to prospective parents. This is why parents of disabled children have formed support groups and advertised their availability for parents facing this diagnosis. Prospective parents even have the choice of visiting a family with a disabled child and seeing the child themselves when making a decision about whether to continue a preganancy. But, strangly, even some pro choice people have spoken out against these groups because they fear that this will interfere with choice. But, these parents are making themselves available on a voluntary basis, no one is forced to participate in such a program. What I would like to see is more pro choice people taking it upon themselves to truly educate people about disability as a part of normal human life and working against biased counseling that encourages women to abort in these situations. Hopefully, such counseling would truly give such women the opportunity to consider their own attitudes toward disability, what they’ve heard about disabilities, and how prepared they really are to raise a special child. Such counseling need not pressure women not to abort, either, it can be neutral and encourage people to understand disability within the framework of our culture and from a more personal standpoint than just reading about it or listening to what their doctor, who may not have experience with disabled people, has to say.

    Sayna-I will not apologize for discussing the subject of eugenics in a civil, open manner, just because the subject makes you uncomfortable. Everyone/every group alive has fore bearers who did unattractive things, and you/the pro choice movement are no different. Like I’ve said before, everyone alive is subject to prejudice, whether they intend to be or not. Unfortunately, there is a connection between the family planning/abortion rights movement and eugenics, just as there is a connection between some capitalist theory and eugenics. An example of this is the philosophy expressed by Thomas Mathus, an English social scientist/philosopher who believed that people who couldn’t get ahead on their own in life were trash. Every movement, nation, and people group has skeletons in it’s closet. We all have to be cautious about former wrongs being repeated via our actions, and a willingness to examine one’s actions in light of history is the mark of a truly courageous individual or movement.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • sayna

    It is quite possible to internalize the outlook that is common to eugenics:"my child would be better of not coming into the world than coming into the world disabled" without it being required.

    But why is that wrong? It would be better for any potential child I might have right now to not be born at all and I don’t have a lot of bad or difficult things going on in my life. Why can’t someone just acknowledge that there are some situations where it’s better off to just not have a child? If you’re arguing that "I shouldn’t have a child" is a bad attitude and the problem, why limit it to abortion? People who use get sterilized, use contraception and/or don’t have sex are doing the exact same thing. You’re being awfully selective. And again, you’ve failed to explain why such an attitude is bad. Both of you are edging awfully close to that part of Godwin’s Law described as "(unpopular people) believed in (idea), therefore it is WRONG!"

    What I would like to see is more pro choice people taking it upon themselves to truly educate people about disability as a part of normal human life and working against biased counseling that encourages women to abort in these situations.

    You act like there isn’t a single disabled person in the world who is pro-choice. The two are not mutually exclusive. As we’ve been trying to explain to the pro-life side for years, there’s a reason why we call ourselves pro-choice. We really do believe that the decision is best left to the woman herself. Of course biased counselling is wrong! You act like pro-choicers would disagree with that.

    Sayna-I will not apologize for discussing the subject of eugenics in a civil, open manner, just because the subject makes you uncomfortable.

    I swear sometimes I’m talking to a brick wall.

     

    It’s not that it makes me uncomfortable, it’s that I’m questioning the relevence of bringing it up in the first place. You guys seem reeeally focused on comparing abortion to eugenics but tend to shy away from the fact that it was mainly contraception and sterilization abused by eugenecists.

    Everyone/every group alive has fore bearers who did unattractive things, and you/the pro choice movement are no different. Like I’ve said before, everyone alive is subject to prejudice, whether they intend to be or not. Unfortunately, there is a connection between the family planning/abortion rights movement and eugenics, just as there is a connection between some capitalist theory and eugenics.

    Again: What point are you trying to make by comparing the reproductive rights movement to eugenics? All I’m seeing is an attempt to demonize pro-choice people. Not only have you twisted my words in an attempt to make me look insensitive–which seems to be a favorite tactic since I saw you do it to colleen too–you’ve ignored my questions. You guys tried to make it sound like I go around pushing people out of their wheelchairs or something. The point I was trying to get accross to you is that disabled people should have the same reproductive rights as everyone else and not be shamed or compared to Nazis just because they don’t want to have kids.

     

    Frankly, your post is coming across as "Just a reminder, some eugenecists believed abortion should be legal and therefore they represent the modern pro-choice movment. Just a reminder. Don’t get mad but some bad apples were pro-choice too!" What is the point in that if not to vilify us?

     

    I’m not seeing the similarities between "women should be in control of their own bodies" and "we need to breed more superior/less inferior people". Did you guys miss the memo or can you just not get the fact that the reproductive rights movement is about letting people choose for themselves whether or not to have children.

  • progo35

    Sayna-I think it’s you who who not understand our point. You are obviously very, very angry at us for bringing this topic up at all, and I would encourage you to do some research on the philosophies behind the eugenic movement before yelling at us with abandon. All you need to do is to look at a history book to know that the FOUNDER OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD, Margaret Sanger, was an ardent supporter of eugenics. Moreover, what Marysia and I are getting at here is the PHILOSOPHY behind eugenics, not how one implements it. We are arguing that some contemporary pro choice people ascribe to the philosophy of “some people are better of not born” that was behind eugenics.

  • sayna

    All you need to do is to look at a history book to know that the FOUNDER OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD, Margaret Sanger, was an ardent supporter of eugenics.

    Ah, there it is. I was wondering when this would come up. I see this one so often that I have a link to an essay about it. It’s always best to read the whole thing, but here are a few excerpts:

    Well, it’s true that Margaret Sanger held these terrible beliefs. But it’s important to think about what the anti-choicers are trying to prove when they point this out. While many don’t state them outright (it’s easier to hide the flaws in your logic when you leave your conclusion unstated), there are 2 conclusions that they are usually trying to get people to draw. The first is that Planned Parenthood is an inherently racist organization that is trying to wipe out the African American population. The second is that the pro-choice ideals that Sanger held – the belief in the right of women to access contraception and abortion – must be wrong.

    [...]

    Let’s take the second of these conclusions first. According to this anti-choice argument, because Sanger was wrong about eugenics (and I mean really wrong), the rest of her beliefs must be wrong as well. Particularly her beliefs about birth control and abortion. Once the argument is clearly laid out, it should be immediately apparent how fallacious it is. Buddha was a sexist, therefore everything Buddha says must be wrong. But that’s just silly. People have both good and bad beliefs, but the presence of bad beliefs does not somehow magically poison all the other beliefs. Ghandi was a racist. Does that mean that everything he had to say about peace and harmony and passive resistance was wrong?

    [...]

    Just because the founder of an organization had a certain belief does not mean that the organization itself subscribes to it. The fact that the founder of PP believed in eugenics does not mean that PP believes in eugenics. To show that you will have to provide independent evidence.

    I hate to copypaste, but this debunks it so well.

  • progo35

    "While many don’t state them outright (it’s easier to hide the flaws in your logic when you leave your conclusion unstated), there are 2 conclusions that they are usually trying to get people to draw. The first is that Planned Parenthood is an inherently racist organization that is trying to wipe out the African American population. The second is that the pro-choice ideals that Sanger held – the belief in the right of women to access contraception and abortion – must be wrong."

     

    Once again, there appears to be a significant miscommnunication between you, Marysia and myself about what Marysia and I are trying to say about the connection beteen abortion based on disablity and eugenics. I will try to elucidate what we(or more appropriately, I) am saying about this connection:

    First of all, the warning Marysia and I are giving about abortion based on disability is not exclusive to the pro life movement. Many disablity advocacy groups, such as ADAPT and Not Dead Yet are pro choice yet discourage termination on the basis of a handicap. I am taking a similar position in discouraging termination based on fetal handicap.

     

    My point in bringing up Sanger is not to argue against abortion, contraception, or voluntary sterilization in themselves, but to give a specific example of how the good side of pro choice philosophy-empowering people to make their own decisions-can be twisted to support bad philosophies or actions, in this case, encouraging the view that women should, or are doing some good (rather than say, neutral), when they abort a disabled fetus, encouraging disabled people to get sterilized and generally feeding into the "better not born than disabled" mentality that continues to permeate society and spearheaded the Modern eugenics movement.

     

    Obviously, someone doing something bad doesn’t negate anything good that they ever did or besmirch her followers automatically, but when that bad thing begins to resurface, it is up to responsible, caring people on both sides of the abortion debate to ensure that it does not thwart appreciation for human diversity and rights.
    So, yes,your essay is correct, but this discussion is really about termination, birth control and sterilization because of disability, not about the acceptability of those things in themselves, so the essay only establishes an argument for why someone would be pro choice despite Margaret Sanger’s flaws. It doesn’t make an argument in regard to termination based on disability, which is what Marysia and I have been getting at. The essay you site doesn’t consider this discussion’s entire context, as I am arguing that termination based on fetal handicap is wrong/prejudiced/tragic, not that abortion or being pro choice is wrong, at least in this discussion.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    Please see my most recent reply on the eugenics/pro choice discussion below:

  • colleen

    Eugenics (along with overt racism) was a very popular notion prior to WW2. These days the only folks who embrace such old fashioned notions are racist, misogynistic republicans. Indeed, Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie (who is a member of the Louisiana legislature) is trying to gain support for a bill authorizing the state of Louisiana to offer low income women $1000 to have their tubes tied. But, see, John LaBruzza, like most racists, is a ‘pro-life’ very conservative Republican. He also wants to require obligatory drug testing for women receiving TANF money.
    http://www.feministing.com/archives/011244.html
    Perhaps if Progo stopped witch hunting and lying about what women here are saying and did some research on her own she would be better able to grasp present day political realities.
    Louisiana is a very Catholic state. One wonders why the Bishops aren’t speaking out against this conservative piece of crap and threatening to refuse communion to the men and women who vote for him. That Catholic hierarchy never fails to disappoint.

  • progo35

    See response below:

  • progo35

    Coleen-the situation you cite w/representative LaBurzza is terrible and, as you point out, is a shameful example of eugenic thinking alive and well today. The fact that eugenic, abelist, racist, and classist policies percolate in the ranks of both parties cannot be emphasized enough. By elucidating concerns about a connection between the current 90 percent abortion rate for down syndrome fetuses and the eugenics movement, I am not attempting to insinuate that ableist or post-eugenic thinking is unique to some within the pro choice movement. There are many tragic examples of representatives on both sides of the abortion debate violating their core pro life and pro choice principles.
    That being said, you could have brought that up without accusing people of lying and spewing hatred toward the Catholic Church, which, like every other group or movement, has skeletons in it’s closet. The point of having these discussions(at least in my view)is to attempt to come up with solutions to the matter at hand, and, if not, at least to make each other think.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    For a story about prenatal testing and down syndrome in particular, see this link:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/us/09down.html

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • colleen

    The fact that eugenic, abelist, racist, and classist policies percolate
    in the ranks of both parties cannot be emphasized enough.

    I was specifically addressing the attitudes you have been claiming women here, including myself, harbor, namely an embrace of eugenics and the notion that low income women should be denied their basic reproductive rights.You have also stated, without proof, that this was a common attitude amongst "progressives and liberals".The people I’ve met and read about who hold this amount of contempt towards women and the poor are invariably conservative and republican as are the politicians. All are ‘pro-life’. I suggest that you start looking a bit closer to home.

    By elucidating concerns about a connection between the current 90
    percent abortion rate for down syndrome fetuses and the eugenics
    movement, I am not attempting to insinuate that ableist or post-eugenic
    thinking is unique to some within the pro choice movement.

    The fact that many women choose to not carry Downs babies to term is not the fault of a eugenics movement or an organized conspiracy,  It is the result of individual  women choosing to not carry Downs syndrome children to term. I don’t know anyone within the pro-choice movement who insists that Downs children should be aborted and I certainly don’t know anyone who wants the state to pay poor women to get their tubes tied. The fact of the matter is that most of the people who hold the views you have had the poor manners to accuse me and others here of are very conservative republicans. If you must witch hunt than I suggest that you do so elsewhere. If you continue to insist that individuals here or the pro-choice movement as a whole embrace eugenics than I suggest you cite some evidence more contemporary than Sanger.

    "There are many tragic examples of representatives on both sides of the
    abortion debate violating their core pro life and pro choice
    principles."

     If there are so many pro-choice eugenicists than I’m sure you will have no trouble producing the names of some liberal pro-choice politicians who share Rep LaBruzzo’s views.

    "That being said, you could have brought that up without accusing people of lying"

    When you lie and deliberately twist words and accuse others of holding reprehensible right-wing positions than you can expect to be called on it.

    "The point of having these discussions(at least in my view)is to attempt
    to come up with solutions to the matter at hand, and, if not, at least
    to make each other think."

    Right, because stridently and viciously accusing someone of being a eugenicist is the best way to work towards a ‘solution’ which consists of forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

  • progo35

    Colleen-

    1. Having a discussion does not constitute “witch hunting”
    2. You continue to scream and yell, indicating that you are not interested in a rational discussion
    3. Having rather a firey temper myself, I encourage everyone here, regardless of their position on this subject, to take a deep breath, and will try to take my own advice

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    I feel that in order to truly understand what people like Marysia and I mean when we talk about the history of eugenics and the abortion rate for fetuses with disabilities, people must have a greater awareness of how our culture influences personal views toward the handicapped and how that culture impacts us in ways we may not consciously perceive. Obviously, no one in public life is running around wearing a t-shirt that reads, "I Love Eugenics." What the disability rights community, much of which is pro choice, is getting at when we warn about termination based on fetal handicap is the climate of fear and loathing that inadvertently surrounds disabled and non-disabled people alike. This culture is expressed in our politics, our media, how we interpret religious texts, the educational system, and every aspect of life from when we are very small. When we discuss the issue of abortion based on fetal handicap as being based on a mindset that was common in the eugenic period, we are really referring to the common human fear of disability that spurred eugenics in the first place.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • colleen

     

    "Having a discussion does not constitute "witch hunting""

    No but triumphantly pointing your finger and accusing  others of holding reprehensible right-wing attitudes towards the poor and disabled is. Sadly, that’s the way that you ‘prove’ your points. I disagree that  pro-choice women are all about eugenics and denying low income women their human rights. 

     

    "You continue to scream and yell, indicating that you are not interested in a rational discussion"

    I think it’s sad that you interpret strong disagreement with your attempts to demonize me and other women here by irresponsibly twisting our words as "yelling and screaming". 

  • progo35

    A historical problem between people in all political camps is to pretend that reprehensible things are exclusive to the other side. Ie, eugenics and a condescending attitude toward poor women in exclusive to the “right wing.” Any honest student of history will see that in the 19th century, eugenics was embraced by Progressives in particular. Now, some of these progressives were “liberal” or “left wing” and some were “conservative” or “right wing.” So, I’m not accusing people of having “right wing” attitudes toward certain practices, I’m suggesting that people should be careful about reinstituting such practices through their actions.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • therealistmom

    … and what I was alluding to in my original post, is WHY should it matter if this is the reason a woman chooses not to continue a pregnancy. In the end, it is still her own choice. We can’t lay judgment on what is a "proper" reason for the woman to decide. We CAN encourage accurate information given to women who have prenatal tests indicating a problem with the fetus, but from there it is no longer our business. At the end of the day, there is an interrupted pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if it is because the woman is not ready to have a child,  if she doesn’t feel financially capable of having a child, if she she could potentially be harmed by the pregnancy, or if it is because the fetus has a problem.

    I know some people in the Down syndrome community point at the percentage of pregnancies that end up being terminated as a terrible thing because after all the work we are putting into having persons with disabilities accepted in society there will be many fewer, and the with the rarity of the condition it will lose visibility and acceptance. Maybe. I just honestly can’t see having a child specifically to address this problem as a good thing. 

    I also know that specifcally in the case of DS people have become enamoured of the "Corky syndrome", ie the visibility of the character played on TV and thinking this level of functioning is the norm.  This ignores the very real health problems faced by many with trisomy 21 as well as giving the illusion that the majority can live as independently as he. I’m thrilled that my own daughter is high-functioning and has had a minimum of health issues (eye surgeries, ear tubes, bone marow biopsy for potential leukemia/ lymphoma, a period of time with GI issues. That’s not the reality for most though, and there needs to be honesty on both sides of the equation.

  • progo35

    That particular show, with “Corky” has been cancelled for several years. Negative stereotypes of the disabled abound and are much more pervasive than any positive depictions. THat is the problem in our society, that social fear of disability is so entrenched that it has, (in my opinion) resulted in the majority of down syndrome pregnancies (as just one example) being terminated.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • colleen

    See the thing is that we weren’t talking about the 19th century, we are speaking of the present day. I doubt that you will find many people outside of the conservative movement willing to seriously consider much less legiaslate eugenics as a form of social engineering.Eugenics was always racist and involved sterilization, not abortion. 

    "So, I’m not accusing people of having "right wing" attitudes toward certain practices"

    Denial is so unattractive.

    When you accused me of wanting to deny low income women the right to bear children that was precisely what you were doing.

    "I’m suggesting that people should be careful about reinstituting such practices through their actions"
     

     

    I’m pretty sure that what you’re trying to do is sell the notion that   pro-choice = neoeugenics. and  Planned Parenthood =neoeugenics while desperately searching for pro-choice feminists  here to point at as examples of the sort of moral rot you battle with every day. Indeed you’ve not even had the basic decency to acknowledge your error and the profound insult in pointing your inquisitorial finger at Sayna and myself..You should look to your own actions before presuming to lecture others.

  • progo35

    Colleen-you obviously don’t want to do any research on your own about the ramifications of the eugenics movement, or to consider perspectives other than your own on this matter. Go ahead and keep insulting people if you want, but it isn’t conducive to a real discussion and makes you look very thin-skinned.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • sayna

      Honestly, I think that colleen is bringing up some excellent points. I have yet to see you actually refute them. Instead you twist her words and tell her she’s just "insulting" and "yelling at" you.

       

      What you need to understand is that you’re making some really offensive statements and assumptions. Maybe you don’t realize you’re doing it, but comments like this are insulting:

      I didn’t suggest that Planned Parenthood or NARAL is conspiring to eliminate disabled people from society on purpose, even if some of the policies they advocate (such as an exception to the post viability rule for abortions performed on fetuses that have disabilities) have that impact.

      Implying that someone is "accidently" committing genocide is not something to be taken lightly.

       

      It’s very hard not to get angry at things like that and I’ll admit that colleen seems very angry with you. I know I am! But she’s not just sitting there ranting and raving, she’s making excellent points and calling you out on some of your poorly-supported claims. It’s what debate is all about.

  • invalid-0

    Well, if we are talking history, permit me to point out that the historical lives of disabled people included institutionalization, abandonment, vile medical imposition, life on the streets and early death.

    It is beyond nonsensical to suggest that pro-choicers are about eugenics, given the level of modern support for the disabled that most EVERYONE advocates. And until anyone can find me any reputable evidence that even a minority of those advocating reproductive rights are specifically targeting the disabled as a matter of policy, this argument is so much hooey.

  • progo35

    Disability rights is one of the unique issues that people on the right and left agree on and/or make mistakes on. I didn’t suggest that Planned Parenthood or NARAL is conspiring to eliminate disabled people from society on purpose, even if some of the policies they advocate (such as an exception to the post viability rule for abortions performed on fetuses that have disabilities) have that impact.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    I too agree with this and think its important to give all the information including the positives. And most would agree with the advocacy done by disability rights groups and progo35 on behalf of accommodation.

  • progo35

    “Nature, in its wisdom, doesn’t intend for conceptions with trisomy to survive. Most embryos with chromosomal anomalies are shed. Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, is pretty much the only survivable triplicate chromosomal disorder with the exception of sex chromosome duplicates. It is estimated that probably 2/3 or more of conceptions with trisomy 21 are miscarried.”

    Realist mom, could you show us the date that this statement is based on?

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • therealistmom

      There are a few out there. This one estimates miscarriage of trisomy 21 to be as great as 80%, constituting 1-2% of total miscarriages. (It is an about.com article but references the March of Dimes and medical journals)

      http://miscarriage.about.com/od/congenitaldisorders/qt/downsyndrome.htm

       A couple of other trisomies besides 21 MAY result in live birth, but generally to greatly reduced potential lifespans and aren’t usually considered "compatible with life" with the exception of duplication of the X chromosome (triple X syndrome in females, Klinefelter syndrome in males, XXY). An overview on the March of Dimes page of chromosomal anomalies can be found here:

      http://www.marchofdimes.com/professionals/14332_1209.asp

       

  • progo35

    Thanks, realist mom. I will check.
    I was thinking about your post and I had some questions and thoughts…
    First of all, I think we all can understand the parental desire to protect one’s child from suffering. That instinct, even when expressed in a contradictory way like an abortion based on a foreseen problem, should be acknowledged in helping women and families who are faced with some sort of prenatal diagnosis.
    One of the things I wondered is if you’ve asked yourself whether your daughter regrets her own life.

     

    Your daughter, her identity as a disabled woman herself, and her acceptance into the human family is what the disability rights community is primarily concerned about when discussing the abortion/disability connection. Does she appreciate who she is as a person? Does she blame her disability on related problems she may encounter, rather than the people who may respond to it in a prejudiced way? These are the questions disability advocates urge prospective parents to ask themselves when considering whether to allow the birth of a disabled child.

     

    Here is another example:
    Growing up, I was often tormented by my peers at school. This may have had some relationship to aspects of my learning disorder, and/or it may have been related to the fact that I was just a nice person and less likely to respond in kind. But the thing I knew was that the kids tormenting me were to blame, not me.
    Teachers and adults, however, chose not to send that message when, instead of correcting or stopping the other children’s bad behavior, they would often remove me from the playground or activity in which the torment was occurring. Thus, the children who were doing the tormenting got to continue playing on the playground, and I got to sit in the resource room. It was just easier for the adults involved to deprive me of common enjoyments than to deal with the other children who deserved to be excluded for their behavior.
    Termination based on disability uses this same flawed logic: that we should "protect" disabled people by not letting us be born at all, because then the problem is resolved by removing us from the playground of life, so to speak. I ask: is this reproductive justice?
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    Sayna,
    I’m on my way out the door but wanted to quickly comment. I believe that Progo is not interested in a productive discussion or exchange of information and that disseminating religious right propaganda and insulting and angering ‘the left’ for it’s entertainment value is her goal.

  • progo35

     

     Anon-in this case you are including the Nazi eugenics program in our discussion of eugenics, as the Nazis did use the gas chambers, America did not. If we are going into the territory of Nazi Germany, coerced/forced abortion was used to eliminate disabled people. 

    I hasten to remind you that this discussion is about the philosophy behind the eugenics movement. How the eugenic purpose of eliminating disabled people was carried out doesn’t matter, it’s the ideology behind such steps that is important.

     For instance: Peter Singer, a professor at Princeton University, believes that parents should be allowed to kill disabled children who they feel unable to care for or who they feel burden their family. When a woman has an abortion based on those same concerns, she is essentially buying into the same disability-as-burden, eugenic mindset as Singer, accept she is having an abortion, in which the fetus is not legally protected, whereas Singer would like to legalize disability-based euthanasia, affecting infants that currently have civil rights. Same reasons/philosophy about disabled people and their lives, different method. The thinking inherent in aborting a disabled fetus or killing a disabled infant based on their handicaps is the same, it’s just that one is universally recognized as murder, whereas the other is not universally recognized as murder, and is currently an accepted medical practice. 

     

    I am NOT suggesting that people here want to follow Singer’s advice, I am using him as an example of common abortion based on disability reasoning carried over from the arena of reproductive rights to the area of infanticide.  Same philosophy, different method. That’s what I’m getting at.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • therealistmom

    I don’t think she is deliberately trying to spout propaganda or completely shut out discussion like some who post here do, as she has had some reasonably coherent answers to some things and in some cases does have a few things to think about. I DO think however she is a bit blinded by her own closeness to the topic at hand and cannot seperate not bringing a disabled child into the world from actively killing people outside the womb. Progo has also stated she is against any kind of euthanasia, which says to me she kind of views ANY life as worth living, even if the individual involved doesn’t WANT to live anymore because of the pain and indignity involved in their treatment for a terminal disease. She has also trotted out that any human life > animal life, insinuating by nature of chromosomes one life is automatically more "worthy" than another, even if one of the lives has not attained any meaningful consciousness and cannot exist on it’s own away from the host. That mindset (while irrational in my view… hell, I even go along with a bit of what Singer has written about speciesism, but certainly not to the extreme pov’s that have gotten him ostracized from most of the scientific community) is pretty well blinding when you see yourself as a potential victim should people adopt any other way of thinking.

    This is NOT a slam against Progo- this is just what I am seeing. I already KNOW I am a cold, callous bitch for thinking it is often better to induce labor for a 26 week fetus with Edwards syndrome (or perform an intact D&X after appropriate anasthesia) and let nature take its course rather than apply dramatic measures to ensure it will survive a few agonizing weeks outside the womb. The same can be said of severe hydroencephaly, anencephaly, and a number of other severe disabilities. 

  • invalid-0

    I was talking specifically about the US here when I got the reply back regarding the American eugenicists and their ‘rubric’, with only a single source mentioned (Black Stork) that doesn’t seem to pan out to support the rubric as mentioned. Above this sub-thread, Sayna has already documented how the Nazi’s had restricted abortion and I’ve already heard elsewhere in the thread how you try to connect it philosophically, but I was only asking for the source for this American eugenicists rubric (as stated above) given it seems to be contradicted by the source given.

  • progo35

    Realist mom-obviously, babies with trisomy 18 have a fatal disorder. But is their time here, as you say, "agonizing"? I’m not convinced that it is, as the issues they have do not necessarily lead to painful symptoms. Moreover, you said elsewhere that you do not believe or that it is not lawful to terminate viable fetuses due to a disability, but here you say that it is often better to do an abortion at 26 weeks. That seems contradictory to me, perhaps you could clarify what you meant over on the thread where we were discussing wolves vs. the viable fetus. PS-Singer was never in the scientific community, because he isn’t a scientist, he’s a philosopher-thus, he has been ostracized by people in the philosophical and disability communities, not the scientific community.

    For people who do not know much about Trisomy 18 and want to know more, try the Trisomy 18 Foundation. This page is their statement expressing support for the prenatally and postnatally diagnosed conditions act, as well as a page on carrying a pregnancy to term vs. tetrminating:

    http://www.trisomy18.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Celebrate_S1810_

    Passage

    http://www.trisomy18.org/site/PageServer?pagename=professionals_health_choices

     

     

  • therealistmom

    I said in MOST states a procedure after 24 weeks is illegal. There are one or two places- literally- that performs later term abortions on any kind of regular basis, the most famous being one in Kansas. The times when it IS allowed is in exceptional circumstances- like anencephaly, severe hydrocephaly, toxemia so severe that a cesaerean or induced labor might kill the woman, or significant defects like trisomy 18. Trust me, I know Edwards syndrome inside and out, having had that potential diagnosis for my son. The personal stories of families who have made the decision to end a wanted pregnancy when faced with these kinds of situations can be found at http://www.aheartbreakingchoice.com . Knowing how strongly you feel about this issue, I am not sure reading these would be terribly good for you (your decision fo course- I can’t decide what is appropriate for your circumstances) but the people are very real and they wanted to say goodbye in the best way they could find. If you’ve read the trisomy 18 information from nonbiased, strictly medical sources you’d know most die in utero, the ones that do make it to term 90% die within the first month. Maybe it is not painful for them- most do not attain any sort of consciousness. The multiple organ defects make them unsuitable candidates for surgery. It IS painful for parents, siblings, etc. Do they not count at all? Why is it automatically more ‘moral’ to bring a fetus to term to die outside the womb than for the pregnancy to be ended earlier? One way the woman can avoid harder labor and the birth of a live infant to watch die. The organs of a an infant with tri-18 cannot be donated to another, and honestly it drains resources for a NICU to care for a doomed infant.  Personally I think it would be highly IMMORAL to force a woman to carry a pregnancy that has no reasonable hope of survival.

    • progo35

      Realistmom-

       

      I just wanted to let you know that I visted http://www.aheartbreakingchoice.com and read many of the stories there, as well as the stories on the Trisomy Foundation’s website. In terms of it being "good" for me, I didn’t have a heart attack and die…it’s not like I haven’t read similar stories before. I feel that same way I did before-I feel very sorry for the pain of those women and their families, I don’t think that they’re evil people,and I think that they are acting on prejudices concerning what they consider to be a good quality of life for their families and/or their children, particularly when the disability involved, such as down syndrome, isn’t fatal.

       

       

       

       

      Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

      • http://www.ourheaartbreakingchoices.com invalid-0

        I am the administrator for http://www.aheartbreakingchoice.com/ and I am glad that you were able to read some of the stories of the women who have made the heartbreaking choice to end a wanted pregnancy. Having been one of those women, and now knowing the extent of the kinds of prenatal diagnoses that can occur in a pregnancy (i.e., Anencephaly, Severe Hydrocephalus, T-13 and T-18, among a many others), I hope you can understand that yes, it is about quality of life rather than life at any cost.

        I say this from another area of experience as well as having made a heartbreaking choice myself, I have also watched my very loved mother-in-law waste away and die from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease.) Watching her body wither and die but knowing that her mind was still fully functional was extremely difficult. She wrote (after she lost the use of her vocal cords due to the disease) that she did NOT want to be intubated, and she did NOT want to live a life full of pain; she chose to allow herself to die (no she did not commit suicide, she slowly starved to death because she could not swallow and refused to be intubated!) This goes back to the discussion of whether an extremely mentally or physically disabled child would want to live their life.

        That is a question that only the child or the person with the disability can make; however, in the case of our unborn children, we, as parents have to make a choice. That is why it is a heartbreaking choice. It is a choice between awful and horrible. Which is worse? Being born to suffer and die or not being born at all? Frankly, no one has the right to make that choice for another human being except the parent if the person in question is unable to make that choice for him or herself.

        As a parent who has made that choice, I took MANY things into consideration before I made that choice. One of which was my child’s quality of life. Please do not misunderstand me to say that disabled people don’t have a quality of life – I am not saying that. Rather I am saying that if that quality of life (such as in my mother-in-law’s case) would or could be full of pain and suffering, many of us feel that we are preventing that suffering from occurring. That is our choice; we do NOT impose our choices on others in any way, we merely advocate the right for any parent to make that choice.

  • progo35

    Realistmom-I know about Dr. Tiller and Dr. Hern, who perform late, post-viability abortions based on fetal anomaly. Like I said about late term fetuses over on the other thread, they are not clumps of tissue or unable to survive outside the womb, which is usually the primary justification for termination. I do not feel that parents have the “right” to terminate a VIABLE fetus, even under current, national abortion laws because of fetal anomaly.The family’s feelings and suffering do not give them the right to terminate a viable fetus because of disability. That is an example of disability prejudice because otherwise it would be acceptable to terminate post viability if the family is upset when they learn that a baby is gay or biracial. From a disability rights standpoint, it’s the same thing. What’s interesting to me is that Kansas forbids post viability abortions unless the woman’s health is in jeopardy, not fetal anomaly, yet these procedures are carried out. And, why did you say on the other thread that post viability procedures are not performed in the case of disability when they are performed?

    Finally, I find it patronizing for you to say that I am unable to distinguish between killing a viable fetus or a born infant and an abortion, or that the only reason that I oppose these things is because of my status as a “potential victim.” As human beings concerned with justice, we have a responsibility to care about justice, etc. I’m not gay, but I care about gay rights. I’m not Jewish but I oppose anti semitism. I hope that I would hold the same positions on disability and human diversity if I were not handicapped.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulric

  • progo35

    Coleen- 

    "When you accused me of wanting to deny low income women the right to bear children that was precisely what you were doing. " I accused you of no such thing. 

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    I accused you of no such thing.

    The exact quote was:

    You are saying that women should have abortions if they are poor in order to reduce child poverty.

    I was saying nothing remotely close to that. I’m done with this conversation.

  • progo35

    Clarity for the benefit of everyone else reading this thread:

    "What if such a consciousness was applied to getting fetal deaths from abortion as close to zero as possible?

    Were that the goal and stated focus I think we would inevitably end up
    with even higher maternal mortality rates and child poverty rates than
    we have now."

     

    In the context of this thread, Progressive and pro life, Marysia posited the question of whether it would be possible to work together by providing resources and encouraging respect for all life. You responded with the statement above, which, asserts that unless women have abortions, child poverty and maternal mortality will go up, ergo, that women should have abortions if they are in poverty to reduce child poverty. To clarify, although you are not necessarily saying that any particular woman should have an abortion, you are saying that women in general should continue having abortions as a solution to the problem of child poverty.

     

    As such, you twisted my words when you wrote that I accused you of saying that you wanted to deny poor women the right to have children. I did not say that that was your position at all-I said that your response indicated that you want poor women to continue choosing to terminate their pregnancies in order to reduce child poverty. There’s a difference between feeling that an option should be available and enacted to achieve a specific result, and believing that that "option" should be forced on people.  Everyone paying attention to what has been said in these discussions, including me, knows that you did not said anything indicating that you would like to deny poor women the right to have children. But, I really think that you realize that. 

    I also find it interesting that you are sensitive to the issue of poor women in regard to eugenics and not disability. 

     

     

     

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

     

     

     

    • sayna

      You responded with the statement above, which, asserts that unless women have abortions, child poverty and maternal mortality will go up, ergo, that women should have abortions if they are in poverty to reduce child poverty. To clarify, although you are not necessarily saying that any particular woman should have an abortion, you are saying that women in general should continue having abortions as a solution to the problem of child poverty.

      [...]

      As such, you twisted my words when you wrote that I accused you of saying that you wanted to deny poor women the right to have children. I did not say that that was your position at all-I said that your response indicated that you want poor women to continue choosing to terminate their pregnancies in order to reduce child poverty. There’s a difference between feeling that an option should be available and enacted to achieve a specific result, and believing that that "option" should be forced on people.

      I don’t know if you’re intentionally trying to twist words or not, but it’s getting really old. colleen was saying that if the option of abortion was not available, it would lead to drastic increases in maternal mortality and child poverty. You even quoted her as saying such. Not once did she say or even imply that poor women should be forced or pressured to terminate their pregnancies! She just said that if your goal was just to stop abortions at any cost, it would have disastrous results for women and children. Which it most certainly would!

       

      I don’t know if you’re twisting her words intentionally or not, but you’re showing astounding amounts of either ignorance or dishonesty when you do. I almost can’t believe the contradictions in your post!

      • progo35

        Sanya-

         

        I never accused Colleen of saying that women should be forced or coerced into terminating pregnancies if they were in poverty, I pointed out that she drew a corelation between the lowering the occurance of child poverty/matenal mortality and abotion, which, when followed to its logical conclusion, supports the idea that terminating pregnancy is a good idea if one is poor. That doesn’t = forcing women to abort if they are poor.  And, like I said, you seem much more concerned about this than you do about the subject at hand, which is women being pressured or encouraged to abort when they learn that their fetus is handicapped. 

         

         

        "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement, by Joseph P. Shapiro, chronicles the efforts of disability rights leaders in ensuring equality for all disabled citizens, from around the 1960s to the 1990s, when the book was published. In it, Shapiro addresses the issue of selective termination and cites Adriene Asch, a medical ethicist who is pro choice and a leader in the disability rights movement:
    " Leaders prominent in the disability rights movement-and it is a movement with a large percentage of female leaders-often find themselves balancing their anger over selective abortion and their belief in the right to unrestricted childbearing rights. Medical ethicist Adrienne Asch, who is blind, argues the importance of a woman’s right to choice. But selective abortion on the basis of disability, she says, is wrong. Most women who abort a fetus diagnosed with a disability like Down syndrome, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, or muscular dystrophy, she claims, lack knowledge of how the disability rights movement is imposing the quality of life for children with these conditions. This reflects society’s exaggerations of the tragedy of such disability. Asch draws a distinction between ending a pregnancy and selective abortion. ‘Aborting because of our own lives says something very different than aborting because we don’t like what we find out about the potential life we carry.’ To abort on the basis of disability, she says, suggests that a disabled person’s life is not worth living. A woman’s right to choice is also violated, she argued, when a society expects her to abort a fetus that may be disabled."
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    http://www.ndss.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=62&Itemid=84
    please note the mention of affliction and suffering in relation to down syndrome

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • http://www.ourheaartbreakingchoices.com invalid-0

      Progo, Quote from the website you posted: People “have” Down syndrome, they do not “suffer from” it and are not “afflicted by” it.

      No people with Down syndrome do not suffer from it, but many do suffer from other complications related to having T-21 and unfortunately, even with today’s medical intervention, many babies do die from the complications.

      It truly is up to the individual parent on what choice to make, and no one has the right to make that choice but the parent – whether it is to carry a child to term and possibly watch their child suffer and die or to end a much wanted pregnancy and try to prevent that suffering from occurring. There is no “right” or “wrong” in cases like this. There is what is right for the parent, and that involves choice.

      I am glad that I live in a Country where that choice is still mine to make.

  • progo35

    Joclyn Elders has gone on record as supporting abortion as a eugenic measure because she openly stated in the early nineties that abortion was good because it lead to less people with down syndrome being born. Care to refute that?

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    I am watching Law and Order on TLC. The head lawyer is horrified to learn that one of the suspects is aborting his gay son because he is gay, yet another detective got yelled at for questioning someone who aborted a child with down syndrome. Why is one horrifying, and not the other?

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    I am a mother of a child with mental & physical disabilities. I applaud your honesty on this subject. I was able to relate 100% when you made reference to “trips to Holland.”

    I wish more parents would be as honest as you were. I do not understand this need to make this situation out to be wonderful &/or “trips to Holland” as you stated, which so many others seem to do. If I could make my child healthy, I would in an instant. In my opinion, if someone chooses to twist that around, you will only be showing your ignorance.

    I am also grateful for you speaking up regarding it being a woman’s choice. I have faced this choice & know many others that have too. I chose to have prenatal testing. I also made the choice to have an abortion. In doing so, I did not & am not saying that there is not a place for people with a disability. Not once did anyone in the medical field ever suggest that I have an abortion as so many claim to happened. I requested the testing, I was given the results & they respected & supported my decision that was solely my decision to make for my baby, my family & myself.

    I am sure it is very hard for many to understand the choices that I have made. If you have not walked in my shoes, consider yourself very fortunate that you have not been faced with these decisions. Whether you decide to continue to term or not, it is heartbreaking & my heart goes out to anyone that has had to face a poor prenatal diagnosis

  • invalid-0

    Progo35 said, “The head lawyer is horrified to learn that one of the suspects is aborting his gay son because he is gay,”

    Could you please help me to understand how someone knew that a baby still in utero was gay?

  • therealistmom

    I don’t know how someone could tell a fetus was gay in utero. If the premise is that they assumed the fetus would develop into a person who is homosexual, well yes, I would find it horrific that someone would choose to abort only for that reason. The same way that I would be horrified at sex selection. Neither of these things is a defect, neither of these things is something “gone wrong” in development. Neither of these things will directly cause pain or suffering in and of itself- only potentially by outside forces. That being said- the whole point is it is NOT MY BUSINESS why a woman chooses to end a pregnancy. It may be a reason I might personally find abhorrent and discriminatory- but it is NOT MY CHOICE TO MAKE.

    Most people see a difference between a mental and physical disability that will directly affect quality of life, and a character trait.

    People with Down syndrome live happier, healthier, and more integrated lives now than in any point in history. This doesn’t change the facts:

    60% of people with DS have a potentially dangerous heart defect, and are not eligible for transplant surgery.

    Over 80% have hearing loss to some degree

    100% have some degree of mental retardation ranging from mild to severe.

    As the life expectancy has lengthened, studies show a large percentage of people developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, symptoms of which may start around age 40.

    There is a greatly increased risk of bone and blood cancers, (particularly leukemia/lymphoma), celiac disease, neutropenia, respiratory issues, gastro-intestinal tract defect requiring surgical repair, and other diseases.

    It is not my call to determine whether or not a specific woman or family can take these things on in their lives. Nor should it be anyone else’s.

  • therealistmom

    You have been able to speak a bit more succinctly than I think I have regarding some aspects of this discussion, and this also gives me the opportunity to thank you also for maintaining the AHC site. I think it is so very important to give these grieving parents the chance to express themselves as well to give a human face to the people who are forced into these kinds of agonizing decisions.

    Stories like you have just shared about your MIL are the reason I also am a firm advocate for death with dignity/ assisted suicide statutes. Even if someone does not wish to have such an out when faced with an incurably painful and terminal illness, the knowledge that it is THERE in and of itself is a huge comfort to many. I personally do not understand the machinations of those who think they know better than the individual who is actually suffering if their quality of life should be maintained. I do not know of anyone who advocates for active euthanasia or rationed care (within reason; “rationing” care by removing a ventilator or feeding tube from someone who is clinically brain dead is not “rationing” at all in my book, simply making resources available to people who have a chance of conscious existence). People simply want to be able to make decisions regarding their own quality of life- and in the case of the ‘unborn’ to make the decisions a fetus could not make itself.

  • progo35

    Excuse me, realistmom, but your comment about rationing care causes you to loose a lot of respect in my book. How dare you presume to deprive someone of a ventilator or feeding tube if that is not THEIR decision? You have no right to impose your views on quality of life on other people, and such views are why I, as a disability advocate, will fight tooth and nail against any form of "death with dignity" because, as you just espoused, many people in that movement don’t just want it for yourselves, you want to force your values upon other people in the name of "making resources available." Moreover, anyone using a ventilator or feeding tube is in bad shape, so the whole "resource" argument is a straw man, because it is unlikely that feeding tubes and ventilators are going to be needed by people who are in a condition that you would regard as salvageable/a quality of life/not brain injured.

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    This was a plot device in a fictional episode of Law and Order. The point is that the cast was generally horrified by the idea of a gay fetus being aborted on the basis of it being gay, but were not horrifed by the idea of a disabled fetus being aborted because it was disabled, and the episode communicated the accectability of that sentiment to the audience, although it did question it with the one detective speaking up against aborting disabled fetuses and discussions of how one person’s character trait is another person’s disease, which is the rational that was being used in aborting this gay baby-that it would have a terrible life because it would not have "normal" relationships and would be tormented by peers growing up.

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    Realistmom-hearing loss, heart problems, dementia, etc, are part of human life. Should we abort people who have genes for heart problems, hearing loss, Alzheimers, and mental retardation?

     Now, I would like to know: WHY aren’t down syndrome people eligible for heart surgery? I would like to know whether this is discrimination on the basis of their condition or if theres some universal medical feature that makes this impossible. Moreover, wouldn’t it be better for you to devote your energies to fight this kind of discrimination, rather than creating a world where your own daugther could go into a clinic and request "death with dignity" on the basis of her disorder?

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • therealistmom

    … but when one ADDS these smaller things to an overall difficulty, it just is that much more to overcome. Hearing loss to an otherwise healthy individual can be coped with- my stepfather being a great example of this. When a parent is looking at the overall life their potential child may have to deal with, it may be a consideration, Learning for a child with DS is difficult enough, adding a hearing difficulty along with vision impairment makes it that much more so. The difficulty is as much or MORE for the family as it is for the child in question. If a woman or family looks at all of these things and decides that it is not something they are capable of providing for, it should not be anyone’s choice but their own what to do, whether it is not continuing the pregnancy or choosing to adopt out the baby once it is born.

    Re: the transplant issue, I have read several differing opinions on why it is not permitted. Some feel that an adequate match cannot be made, others are blatantly discriminatory in saying that it’s a “quality of life” issue. (This, you may be surprised to realize, angers me to no end. I will fully advocate AGAINST the idea that a person with a mild to moderate mental retardation has less of a ‘quality of life’ in that circumstance. Ideally we’d live in a world where rationing organs doesn’t have to take place.) The biggest argument I have seen revolves around the idea that post-transplant regimens would not be followed adequately, again another reason I reject because if a support system is put in place this should not be an issue. One other point is that the overall lifespan of someone with trisomy 21 is somewhat less than for someone without a chromosomal anomaly, therefore a person with a normal genetic profile would get more ‘mileage’ so to speak from their transplant. Once someone is here I absolutely want equality in care and it infuriates me to see these kinds of things occur, but progress is slowly being made. Even a couple of decades ago open heart surgery would not have been an option, and now I witnessed an infant boy with DS recover well from mitral valve replacement and grow strong.

    I think however you are kind of conflating two issues. “Right to die” advocates do NOT (generally, there may be some whackjobs out there, there are in every movement… see Peter Singer et al) want people to be able to wander in off the street and off themselves. Someone with a developmental disability like my daughter would not be eligible in any way, shape, or form UNLESS they were terminal, in pain, and it could be shown that despite their degree of retardation they were capable of making the decision on their own, which would be highly unlikely for anyone with diminished capacity. While there are too many strictures for the use of pain medication in terminally ill/ chronic pain patients, and these need to be reduced and addressed to be sure people are given the pain relief they require, there are times when frankly it doesn’t work anymore, or the person has decided they have no quality of life (like the woman who died vomiting out her bowel contents- even had there been adequate pain control, that had to be torture, or persons who have no physical control at all anymore yet are clear of mind ). These people should not be forced to live because of heroic interventions, when nature would have taken its course otherwise, if THEY do not wish to continue. It shouldn’t be mine, yours, or anyone else’s choice but that person.

  • therealistmom

    … they are DEAD. Continuing to keep the body alive because of some allegiance to the idea that “live at all costs” is frankly asinine. People are on ventilators all the time that WILL recover, as from a coma or in post-surgery. People are placed occasionally on feeding tubes and such while their bodies are in a state of recovery. People are in the ICU because of accidents, injury, heart attacks, etc. If someone is clinically brain dead it CAN’T be their choice… because they are already DEAD. Dead people can’t choose. I think that if at all possible it should be left to the family to make the decision if/ when the life support should be terminated, because of course it is their family member and they should be making the choices on the part of their loved one. But the brain-dead individual has no say anymore- because they are DEAD.

  • progo35

    RM-I know all about Peter Singer, and am glad that you do not agree with him! The transplant issue is a horrible example of discrimination that should be addressed forthwith. I’m glad that reading the AHC stories and speaking with you has made me more aware that this is an offical practice (I knew that this was going on but I didn’t know that this was a matter of fact policy).  

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • http://www.ourheaartbreakingchoices.com invalid-0

    Progo, I think the point that Realistmom was making about death with dignity is that those who have a terminal illness in many cases would rather pass with dignity than live as a vegetable. I did not get that she was implying in any shape or form that she, or anyone else has the right to make that decision for a person with a terminal illness; I understood it to be the choice of the person with said terminal illness.

    Unfortunately, those with a terminal illness will sometimes not make a living will – which I urge every single person reading this to do! If you do not wish to be placed on life-support if something happens to you, in most states you must have a living will stating your wishes, or the hospital will try to save your life no matter what the cost. That is why many families are faced with the awful decision of whether or not to “pull the plug” on their loved ones – and as already stated, it is not the right of any one but the person with the illness or severe disability to make that choice – unless, that person is incapable of making it for themselves.

    No one wants to be put in that situation, whether as the person having to make that choice, or as the person that is ill. I know, personally that it was a very difficult thing for my in-laws to accept that their mother did not want to live. But they DID acept it, and they DID honor her wishes not to intubate her, and to allow her to die with dignity. I know, I was there – I watched her die. I would NEVER wish to see ANYONE suffer with ALS or any terminal illness if they did not wish to live. It is their choice. Just as making the choice to end our much wanted pregnancies is our choice.

    In the end – it is all about choices. We each have the right to make our own choices. The thing that we need to remember is that our choices may not be the same as some one else’s, but they have a right to their choice too! The idea here is to disagree, but to do so in an agreeable manner.

    I truly wish that more people could just accept that we each have opinions, and each have rights to them – accept, and allow for disagreement. But love each other as human beings any way. Honestly – I learned that from a wonderful, beautiful human being…my mother-in-law!

  • progo35

    Ayliea-I think you have misunderstood my point-realistmom used medical rationing as a justification for removing someone’s ventilator, etc, which, if done as an act of rationing, would be done AGAINST THAT PERSON’S will. If it is done via the person’s will, it’s not rationing, because it isn’t being done because of the cost of taking care of that person, it’s being done via the person’s wishes.  

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    There is a right or wrong when we’re considering diversity issues. Moreover, the "many" babies you cite as dying comprise a fraction of actual cases, and any baby can die from complications not related to down syndrome. Thus, this does not lend justification to terminating a down syndrome pregnancy unless we are going to argue that there is no right or wrong decision to make if one is carrying a gay or biracial child. 

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • therealistmom

    So nobody should ever have medical decisions made for them? I’m not speaking about people who are capable of expressing what they want, I’m speaking of those circumstances where they cannot. Parents make medical decisions for their children all the time- they are given shots “against their will”. If someone is in an accident and are rendered unconscious, emergency care is given to them “against their will”. There will be circumstances where people cannot give consent to what will occur.

    By your logic, if I am understanding you correctly, if someone was to be severely injured to the point of clinical brain death with no hope of recovery, and they did not have family to render medical decisions for them, having had no opportunity to voice what they would want in the circumstance of being in a persistent vegetative state, they should be kept “alive” (in the loosest sense of the word) forever because they can’t consent to having the support removed? Why is it acceptable to force their body to remain “alive” despite brain death (without their consent), but not acceptable to allow nature to take its course when there is no hope for recovery (without their consent)? Perhaps I am just pragmatic; I don’t see why resources should be used in this circumstance forever to maintain breathing in a body that will never have a consciousness.

  • http://www.ourheartbreakingchoices.com invalid-0

    I am glad that I live in a country where choice is still free…

    The point (that you seem to have missed again) is that each and every one of us has a right to make his/her own choice. My choice is not more right than yours, and yours is most certainly NOT more right than mine.

    Not you, nor any other person on this planet has the right to tell me what is the right or wrong choice for ME. You have your opinion, I have mine. The choice of terminating a much wanted pregnancy is just that – CHOICE.

    I absolutely do NOT agree with terminating a biracial or any other minority pregnancy, but I also stand by the right of any woman to have an abortion if she is not ready to have a child, no matter what the reason, because that choice is NOT mine to make for any woman but myself.

    I may not agree with another woman’s reason to abort, and quite frankly in many cases do not agree – however, I still support a woman’s right to choose.

    That is the issue here. CHOICE.

    Let’s agree to disagree – end of discussion on my part. I choose CHOICE.

  • progo35

    Ayliea-it’s very important for you and everyone else reading this thread to understand that this concern over terminating a pregnancy because of the fetus’s disabilities is not exclusive to pro life individuals. I oppose this strongly and passionately primarily because of my work in the disability rights movement, and secondarily because I am pro life. Ie, if I were ardently pro choice, I would still believe that the ninety percent abortion rate for down syndrome fetuses is discriminatorry/at least partly the product of the woman being conditioned by social bigotry/misconceptions. ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, The American Assocation of People with Disabilities, and many other disability organizations have cautioned women about aborting based on disability. The 1998 edition of Our Bodies Ourselves had a section on it encouraging women to reflect on their own preconceptions about what makes a life "worth living." Unfortunately, the 2006 edition deletes this information/admonishment. 

    People are unpredictable. Perhaps one day I will be faced with an unplanned pregnancy and commit the ultimate pro life hypocrisy and have an abortion, or maybe a child of mine will have one, or any number of things, and I will change my mind. But even if I did, my position on the social climate that conditions women to feel that they cannot handle parenting a disabled child or that the child would be better off not being born, would not change.  

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    RM-this isn’t "medical rationing." "Medical rationing" occurs when a person who has either a living will or a family to speak for them, or has been declared brain dead incorrectly, has support removed from them counter to their instructions to save money/resources. Now, brain death is a good criterion for a removal decision when the definition is uniform. Unfortunately, it is not, and that has lead to some people being diagnosed as brain dead who then "woke up" later, because they weren’t really braindead.  That is because the term "brain dead" is often misused to describe people who are not brain dead, such as people in "Persistant Vegetative State"s or Minimally Conscious States. Case in point: http://www.wesleyjsmith.com/blog/. This leads to confusion as to when a person is truly brain dead among the general populace and the medical /bioethics community. So, I’m talking about following the person’s wishes-a person should never be denied medical care or intervention against theirl living will/power of attorney to save resources. For more info on this, I highly recommend Wesley J. Smith’s blog, Secondhand Smoke. It comes at these issues from a secular perspective and examines them from a civil rights standpoint: http://wesleyjsmith.com/blog

    I also reccommend Wesley’s two books, Forced Exit and Culture of Death, as well as the blog of Not Dead Yet, a disability rights group.

     

     

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    Even though this procedure is statistically rare, it is much more likely to occur on a fetus that has down syndrome:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partial_birth_abortion#.22Partial-birth_abortion.22

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    “Even though this procedure is statistically rare, it is much more likely to occur on a fetus that has down syndrome”

    What exactly is your point?

  • progo35

    That people who opposed the Partial Birth Abortion Ban (ie, the Intact Dilation and Extraction procedure), said that it is only done if the woman’s life is at stake, some including fetal life/health as a reason. But, over two thousand babies/fetuses being destroyed in this way is too many when it involves delivering the baby until only part of the head is left inside the woman’s body and then aborting the fetus/baby, and the fetuses/babies having this procedure performed on them have disabilities like Down Syndrome, which isn’t fatal. I’m saying that if this procedure wasn’t universally viewed as gruesome, supporters of it wouldn’t be using the “it’s rare” argument to support it. A termination via D and X for Down Syndrome doesn’t involve saving the woman’s life, and so, I feel lied to by those who assert that that is why these procedures are being performed.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • invalid-0

    > The thing is, these feelings are the norm for parents of disabled children. It’s just not spoken of.

    Not among the mothers I know, nor myself. I and the other moms I know who have children with DS see our children as a complete blessing. This does not mean that we wouldn’t want our children to be relieved of some of the stuff they have to deal with, but geez, to say that you would have aborted your own daughter? How you cannot be touched by her special love to the point of getting on your knees and thanking God for the beautiful gift He’s given you is beyond me.

  • therealistmom

    This is just the phenomenon I was speaking of. While I am sure there are some people out there who never, ever find there to be a difficult day, who are ecstatic that their child will never quite be the same as other people and will face a lifetime of challenges, it’s not the norm. We’re EXPECTED to all say, "Oh yes, my child is a special angel from heaven and we are sooooo lucky/ happy/ whatnot". Therapists and other professionals will tell you that it is perfectly NORMAL to mourn the child that never was, to have resentments now and again, to feel cheated sometimes. Denying these feelings simply isn’t healthy if you have them- they key is working through them to see the positive things and making the best choices for your child and for yourself.

     If I hadn’t continued the pregnancy, my daughter would never have existed beyond a basic fetal potential. I have her now; she is a happy, loving person who I love with every fiber of my being. She wasn’t "gifted to me by god" or anything else- if I believed there WAS a god of some sort out there why the hell would he/she/flying spaghetti monster choose to bestow this "gift" on someone who wasn’t equipped to handle it? Don’t give me the "god doesn’t give us more than we han handle" bullshit either. I went into severe postpartum depression after her birth and was barely functional, at times suicidal. Was this her fault? Of course not. But the "more than we can handle" line doesn’t fly here. If "god" was dispensing babies as gifts wouldn’t he/she/FSM be putting them into the best possible places instead of letting them be born to be tossed in dumpsters? And why would this "god" deliberately create people with disabilities or chronic diseases when they have the power NOT to? I’m not going to get into a whole theological debate here- but the fact is I and others have heard all of this tripe before, the cliches, the special angels. I’m not going to pretend that I believe it all to keep the smiley happy united front.

  • progo35

    Realistmom,
    You’re right, it is normal to feel pain and resentment sometimes. Yet, obviously, you are handling it. You also had the choice to give your child up for adoption if you did not feel prepared to care for her after her birth. You chose to keep her, and as you say, you love her, so there must have been something that made you feel that having her and knowing her was worth the extra work, otherwise, you wouldn’t have kept her after she was born.
    You don’t have to believe that your child is a "gift from God," if that doesn’t seem true to you, but that belief is not necessary in order to oppose the selective abortions of fetuses with Down Syndrome. Why is it that whenever possible, the opposing sides of a controversial issue are painted as being secular vs. religious, when there are serious ethical issues concerning human diversity to be considered?
    And, you didn’t respond to MM Mom’s comment, "geez, to say you would have aborted your own daughter? How you cannot be touched by her special love to the point of getting on your knees to thank God for the special gift he has given you is beyond me." We’ve established that you don’t believe in God, but I think that MM’s point is that even though the feelings of disapointment and resentment you feel are normal, aborting fetuses with down syndrome is not an acceptable response.
    Moreover, sometimes I worry that the secular left people making your argument about God and the abortion of disabled fetuses has ire toward people with disabilities because we stand in the way of the utopian vision they would like to see implemented here on earth-a utopia that does not include people like us. If I have to choose between your argument of "there’s no God because no God would make people like my duaghter," and, "this person was made in God’s image and is loved equally by Him," I see the second position as being tolerant and accepting of disability, in contrast to the first, which is does not accept disability as a facet of human difference. So, that which is commonly considered the "secular" view does not necessarily promote tolerance or human diversity; sometimes, the "religious" view creates a world that is more accepting of different individuals.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • colleen

    And, you didn’t respond to MM Mom’s comment, "geez, to say you would
    have aborted your own daughter? How you cannot be touched by her
    special love to the point of getting on your knees to thank God for the
    special gift he has given you is beyond me."

    On the contrary, I would say that it was precisely this unpleasantly self righteous, brainwashed, revolting attempt  at proselytizing RM was replying to. 

     

  • progo35

    Colleen-would you like to say what in MM’s comment was particularly “revolting”? Because it seems to me that as the mother of a down syndrome child, she has just as much credibility as RealistMom does in speaking about this subject, therefore, her comment about RM’s position is not “proselytizing,” it was expressing MM’s opinion about her own child. As a disability advocate, I’d honestly say that, as I said in the above post, MM’s perception of her child and his or her standing as a human being is a lot more accepting of Down Syndrome individuals than RM’s position, even though I believe that RM loves her daughter and wants the best for her now that she is here. I’m glad that the majority of the DS community does not share RM’s position on people with down syndrome, or such people would be blotted out of existence entirely.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    • therealistmom

      I want people with DS "blotted out of society"? REALLY? After I have repeatedly stated that I want to advocate for the absolute best lives for the people who are here, want to ensure their education, career opportunities, life skills? That I don’t want to see discrimination for people with DS (or any other disability) in medical care?

      I said women should have the choice to decide if they have the ability or desire to continue a pregnancy after a prenatal diagnosis- but that their decision NOT to, if that’s what they feel is best, should not be judged. I said that had I the knowledge I might not have continued my own pregnancy, and likely would not have. It’s a simple truth. I applaud those people who have the strength and desire to continue a pregnancy in these circumstances if they so choose. I applaud those people who make the difficult decision not to if it is what is right for them and their families. I value the right to CHOOSE. Personally, yes, I would like to see fewer people -have- to be born with disabilities, not because they don’t have a "right to exist" but because there is a reason these things are called disabilities. I don’t want to accomplish that through encouraging abortions, that is an individual choice. But do we say that women shouldn’t take extra folic acid during their fertile years because we want more babies born with spina bifida, since we should embrace it? Or say "go ahead and smoke, low birth weight babies are just different"? Of course not. We try to avoid those things that are preventable, and that is a GOOD thing. 

       And Colleen was right, there was nothing to address. I love my daughter. I want the absolute best for her in everything and will do everything in my power to ensure her and people like her have equitable treatment. I learn new things every day and I am fortunate to have someone so loving in my life. That doesn’t mean I am "thankful" for this "opportunity" like it is a great and wonderful thing that she has Down syndrome. 

    • emma

      Well, I was a bit repulsed by the implication that Realist Mom is somehow abberant for being ambivalent about having a child with Down Syndrome (I didn’t paraphrase what RM has said well, there) and for having a non-religious perspective – i.e. not buying into the ‘gift from god’ stuff. There is an awful lot of proselytising at this site, and it is a little irritating for those of us who are not religious. And honestly, Progo, you seem to be implying that secular leftist ideology is inherently immoral, genocidal and inferior to religious ideology, and that is a bit sweeping and insulting (and frankly a little hard to take coming from someone who supports torturing any Arab Dick Cheney says is a terrorist).

      I think ableism is partly a factor of an economic/political/ideological system that measures people’s worth according to one’s ability to make money (not that people with disabilities are necessarily economically unproductive, but some disabilities can limit ability to work). Those of us who are anti-capitalist lefties do not support such an ideological system, unlike the political and religious right-wingers.

    • colleen

       would you like to say what in MM’s comment was particularly "revolting"?

       

      I already did.

       

      Because it seems to me that as the mother of a down syndrome child, she
      has just as much credibility as RealistMom does in speaking about this
      subject, therefore, her comment about RM’s position is not
      "proselytizing,"

      I’m not sure why you believe  I or anyone else here cares at all about your many, many poorly informed opinions but let me assure you that I do not.

      it was expressing MM’s opinion about her own child.


      So, when MM said:

       "geez, to say you would
      have aborted your own daughter? How you cannot be touched by her
      special love to the point of getting on your knees to thank God for the
      special gift he has given you is beyond me."

       

        MM wasn’t really addressing her comments to RM and indeed trying, in her feeble fundie way to shame RM?  Because seriously Progo, if you believe that all MM was doing was "expressing (her) opinion about her own child" or expect anyone who reads this to believe that you’re even more seriously delusional than I thought.

       

      • progo35

        Colleen-MM was expressing concern about RM’s contention that she would have rather aborted her daughter than have her daughter now becuae RM loves her own child and, like me, sees RM’s position as stemming from negative social conceptions of disability. As I’ve said, it doesn’t matter whether God enters the mix or not, the point is that MM does not consider the selective abortion of down syndrome fetuses to be a valid solution to dealing with disability, whereas RealistMom does. One could argue that you are just as "delusional" as you seem to think I am for your won failure to see the difference between prosteltyzing and expressing an opinion about how down syndrome pregnancies should be handled. 

         

        "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    Realistmom-I don’t want to be insensitive because I know that this is a very personal issue for you. I know that you love your daughter. But your post is contradictory. First you state
    reasons for why my comment about wanting DS people blotted out of existence doesn’t apply to you, and then you go and say that you do want less people with disabilities here on earth. This is what I’m talking about-our society has such a fear of disability that we will do anything, even selectively abort fully formed fetuses and call it compassion-to avoid it.

    There is a major difference between a woman taking folic acid to ensure that her baby is born healthy and a woman choosing tgo abort a fetus because the fetus has a disability. In the case of taking folic acid, the fetus with a disability doesn’t exist yet to be discriminated against, and in the case of a “therapeutic” abortion for DS, the disabled fetus does exist to be discriminated against.

    PS, emma-if the three people who were waterboarded because of their connections to Al Queda were white or purple, I would still suppport WB in those three cases. As for the thinking that the leftist secular ideology “is inherently immoral, genocidal, and inferior to religious ideology,” I’ve been speaking of how both worldviews impact human diversity in our society, and that both can be effective and that both are sometimes lacking, but that completely depends on the people applying those philosophies. In my opinion, it is inherently illiberal to support the selective abortion of disabled fetuses and euthanasia for disabled people who “want” it because of the inherent prejudice in those decisions. Many leftist people, who are shoved in the recesses of society because they don’t tow the line, believe as I do without any religious commitment.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • http://www.google.com/ invalid-0

    This is a TEST Comment
    Salman Khan
    Salman Khan
    http://www.google.com/

  • http://tamiflushop.us/ invalid-0

    i think abortion is a big crime however in his major work Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas Aquinas expounded upon the Principle of double effect by which he theorized that an action is justified under certain circumstances even if it is expected to bring harmful effects along with the intended, beneficial effect. This principle determines the modern Catholic position that a medical procedure needed to save the life of the mother, but that may result in the death of the “pre-born child” as a secondary effect, is morally acceptable.