Women of Color and the Anti-Choice Focus on Eugenics


Editor’s note: Read all of RH Reality Check’s coverage of this racist anti-choice campaign.

This article is part of a series of articles appearing on RH Reality Check, written by reproductive justice advocates responding to recent efforts by the anti-choice movement to use racial and ethnic myths to limit women’s rights and health. Recent articles on this topic include those by Gloria Feldt, Kelley Robinson, Jodi Jacobson, Miriam Pérez, Maame-Mensima Horne, Susan Cohen, and Carole Joffe.

Just days before the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, a fellow activist sent me a link to a video posted by the anti-choice group Bound for Life.  I was vaguely familiar with Bound for Life from having seen their members at protests, signature red tape marked with the word “Life” fixed to their mouths. 

The video promoted an action that Bound for Life participated in at a new Planned Parenthood clinic being built in Houston.  The spin for this specific protest caught my attention.  The angle – that reproductive health care providers are organized to increase abortions by people of color in a plot to commit genocide for profit – has been in play by anti-choicers for years.  That theory has been, is now, and will always be insultingly paternalistic in its assumptions about women of color seeking reproductive health care.  The allegation is also picking up steam this Black History Month.

The first time I watched the video I was struck by the theories promoted through it – that communities of color are tragically ignorant of some long standing genocidal plot and desperately need organizations like Bound for Life to come to educate us, that the size of a reproductive health care clinic is in some way connected to it’s intended scale of abortion services and that the location of that clinic (in communities of color) is proof of some long standing genocidal plot.  Bound for Life isn’t alone in putting forth these arguments.  Anti-choice groups recently put up billboards in Georgia claiming that Black children are an endangered species and other organizations, like The Radiance Foundation, target religious people of color with the same anti-choice message; their stated goal being to illuminate, educate and motivate their audience.

The fallout from this rhetoric is hard to measure, but I’ve heard of the black genocide conspiracy for years.  I am an activist in my home city of St. Louis Missouri and many of the young women of color I work with are aware of the rumors and ask questions about them. 

In Missouri, where young people are often denied access to medically accurate comprehensive sex education in public schools, rumors can often be taken as fact.  In my volunteer work I have met young women who thought drinking a certain soft drink would either prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections; others who have heard that contraceptives give users HIV; and some who were convinced that the withdrawal method protected them from sexually transmitted infections.  In the absence of knowledge, dangerously inaccurate information reigns supreme without challenge or correction. 

It is in that knowledge-vacuum that the black genocide conspiracy hopes to set up shop, with hopes to take advantage of the fruits of anti-choice labor that has systematically removed sex education from sex education. It’s more than ironic that anti-choicers–who work strenuously to deny to medically accurate sex education and prevention programs to young people of color–are now trying to rally communities of color through a pseudo-community education program built on the myth of black genocide.  It’s far more than ironic…it’s shameful.

As a woman of color and a reproductive justice activist, I am appalled each time I hear the black genocide rap.  Quotes by Margaret Sanger are tossed out as if she were a prophet, as if reproductive choice a religion, and as if pro-choice activists were fundamentalists bent on staying true to Sanger’s words as a person of fundamentalist faith would to the word of God.  In reality, Margaret Sanger was a person whose work paved the way for legal access to contraceptives in this country.  Sanger’s personal beliefs on eugenics were and are wrong and do not hold any place in the mission of reproductive justice or reproductive health care providers.  We do not associate the Ford Motor Company with anti-semitism, despite the well documented history of it’s founder Henry Ford in collaborating with Nazis and we should not associate contemporary reproductive health care providers or the reproductive justice movement with eugenics because of some views expressed by Margaret Sanger.

But the truth has little to do with the black genocide scare tactic.  The truth is that reproductive health care providers open clinics to provide access to the full range of reproductive health care services in communities that need safe and affordable health care.  Those services include yearly cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, education on how to prevent sexually transmitted infections, education on how to prevent unplanned pregnancy and abortion counseling and services.

The truth is:

Clearly there are a lot of health-care related reasons why reproductive health care providers seek to provide services to communities of color.

Women of color are not children unable to make health care decisions, our children are not a species on the brink of extinction through an organized genocidal plot and justice is found when a people are unbound and empowered by medically accurate knowledge rather than dogma.  This Black History Month, despite well-produced marketing campaigns designed to spark fear and perpetuate myths, we must recommit ourselves to the struggle for reproductive justice in our communities.  Now, more than ever, we need to address the realities on the ground and reject the conspiracy theories being shouted by the anti-choice mob.

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  • crowepps

    It does seem like a pretty foolish theory considering that the live-birth fertility rates for Blacks have for years consistently been higher than that for Whites. As I recollect, not too long ago the conservatives were all hysterical about how Blacks and Hispanics were out-reproducing Whites and White people were going to ‘become a minority’.

     

    http://www.jointcenter.org/DB/table/databank/families/Fertity/Liveb.txt

  • progo35

    Even though I disagree with the premise, I think that this is a good article and am important discussion to have. I think that the pro life movement’s discussion about PP’s targeting of Black communities can sound or can become paternalistic, so I think it’s important that anyone exploring that theory do so with the understanding that it can sound as if they don’t believe that the people being affected, African American women, can make choices for themselves despite the prejudice they may experience. I don’t think that the people I know think that African American women are any less capable of making reproductive health decisions than anyone else, but if they do, they need to understand that that this is wrong, factually and morally. That being said, I do believe that PP’s location in so many African American and minority communities is suspect even if PP’s purpose isn’t to promote eugenics.

     Most importantly, many African American people are pro life and may work at Bound for Life and other pro life agencies who produce such ads. I happen to know for a fact that many such people do look at PP’s location in so many minority communities as a form of racism. For instance, one of Martin Luther King’s relatives who is active in the pro life movement has emphasized this connection in her advocacy, so it may be racist in itself to assume that pro life organizations which bring this up are "talking down" to people of color.

    I doubt employees of PP are running around thinking, "let’s help create an environment where Black women feel driven to get abortions so that there will be less Black people," but by setting up in these neighborhoods, they send the message that Black people need abortion services more than white people, and, hence, that there is somehow an inherent need for black women to have abortions. Moreover, the PP centers pro life advocates are discussing are the ones located in poorer neighborhoods, so it is a class issue as well as a race issue. One wouldn’t think that PP’s setting up in a poor neighborhood would negatively impact those African Americans and other minorities living in middle class or upper class areas. So, generally the argument focuses on those African Americans who are poor, which can perpetuate the stereotype that African Americans invariably live in poor communities. This, I think, is a sterotype that can haunt even the most well-intentioned individuals. But, in the case of those that do, I do think that the presence of abortion clinics seeks to encourage such women to get abortions as the solution to the poverty, lack of opportunity, and racism that they may be facing. People of all races, religions, abilities, etc, are capable of making choices, but I don’t believe that anyone is capable of making choices that are free of environmental influence. I believe that like women who find out that their fetus has a disability, people in poorer communities, including the statistically higher percentage of African American people who live in those communities, are placed in situations in which abortion is presented as the most sensible option and the only way out of whatever adversity impacts a particular pregnancy. I also believe that PP may hold some racist assumptions about needing to "educate" and "protect" Black people itself, as if Black people cannot make good decisions without PP there to help them, which is just as bad as a pro life organization behaving as if Black people need to be patronized. Ie, if what the pro life organizations are saying is wrong because it seeks to educate African Americans about a historical trend, than PP is also wrong because it is always running to these communities assuming that the communities healthcare and educational needs will not be met unless they intervene. Just because someone moves on the left does not mean that they do not hold racistt, ableist, or other bigoted assumptions. Like I said, this was a good article on a very important matter. "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • jacqueline-s-homan

    These neocon pro-forced birthers didn’t care about the human and social cost, including fatalities, of eliminating the welfare safety net as an entitlement for poor women.

     

    Just being born female without taking into account the dynamics of race, you stand a 41% chance of ending up poor: thanks to job discrimination and lack of access to contraception and abortion, not to mention frequently getting cheated out of that child support check.

     

    Because it costs MONEY to support yourself, or yourself and a child.

     

    Although we are still paid less than men and still don’t get equal opportunities for the same jobs open to men, and we don’t get cut any breaks or discounts on what it costs for us to be able to live. We don’t get to pay less for that loaf of bread or that roof over our head than a man, yet we’re supposed to afford it all on so much less than any man would ever be expected to.

     

    And when it comes to paying for health insurance premiums (for those lucky enough to have a good job where health insurance co-pays are affordable), women are forced to pay MORE than men — all this on LESS money!

     

    As I recall back in the 1980′s, Reagan and the rest of the Moral Majority bemoaned the "fact" that black women with large broods of kids were welfare queens living undeservedly large — driving Cadillacs and loading up shopping carts with steaks — off the largesse of the poor white male whose hard-earned paycheck could barely afford to buy Hamburger Helper.

     

    These same neocons during the Reagan and Bush I regime also pushed for policies such as eliminating CETA, a Great Society program that placed the disenfranchised and poor (women and minorities) in subsidized jobs from which they spring-boarded into middle class careers.

     

    Then these same hypocrites brought us the draconian Welfare Reform Act of 1996, modeled after Catholic "pro-life" Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson’s W-2 program which targeted poor single mothers and their children for punishment (but did nothing to punish the fathers who helped make those babies). But were these "pro-life" mother-muggers ashamed? Hell no! They forced poor women who had just given birth to take the first menial minimum wage job offered — regardless if the woman suffered any long-term negative health impacts directly caused by pregnancy and giving birth that affected her ability to get and keep a job.

     

    The whole anti-abortion/anti-contraception movement is really an anti-woman movement: it’s about greedy, authoritarian rich white males maintaining unfair advantages through the perpetuation of a system of unearned privilege by "putting women back in their place" — barred from advanced education, barred from meaningful careers, poor and having to take abuse from abusive, controlling selfish men for daily bread with NO way out.

     

    Slavery was abolished by the 14th Amendment. It’s time that we demand equal rights for ALL women as citizens under the US Constitution and say "NO!" to the legalized chattel slavery of compulsory maternity. Our bodies are NOT male/church/state property.

     

     

    "Imposing the non-benign medical condition of childbirth, on unwilling women at peril to their health, wellbeing, lives, and liberty; is the ultimate form of chattel slavery — a human rights violation under Article 7(g) of the Rome Statute."

  • marysia

    Both sides of this debate over abortion and eugenics are onto something, I think…I blogged about it here, from a pro every life, anti-racist perspective: http://nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com/2010/02/black-genocide.html

    I too am suspicious of people who invoke racism and eugenics when the issue is abortion, but not when it’s welfare rights, or health care, or the criminal “justice” system or gun and gang violence. but having researched and written about the history of eugenics in this country, I am well aware that it is still with us in some ways.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • cmarie

    here are two excellent sources on the subject:

    http://www.klannedparenthood.com
    http://www.blackgenocide.org

  • aim%C3%A9e-thornethomsen

    Pamela, thank you so much for raising this issue.  I have been having this very conversation with other colleagues in the reproductive health, rights and justice movements.  For too long, our community has ceded the ground on the topic of "abortion as genocide" that is often lobbed at communities of color by anti-choice opponents.  I believe that has been a grave miscalculation and based in fear and/or shame of eugenicist practices in our movement’s history.  Now I don’t diminish that Sanger had very clear ideas of who should reproduce and who shouldn’t, which others share to this day.  Nor do I discount the eugenicist ideas that masquerade as solutions to poverty, climate change, etc. that do nothing to change the inequalities of our society.

     

    But let’s be clear.  Those who make the "abortion as genocide" argument do not care about communities of color.  They do not come from our communities.  They do not know our realities.  If they did, they would have been fighting like hell to pass health care reform last year and against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Where were they when Clinton passed so-called "welfare reform"?  Anti-choice opponents want to make the case that abortion is destroying our communities.  Well, what about poverty, violence, and racism as genocide? 

     

    Women of color have long suffered at the hands of others who think they know what is best for us, in the interest of protecting us and our families.  We don’t need others telling us what we can or should do with our bodies or our families.  What women of color need is access to education, employment, housing, health care and the power necessary to make the best decisions we can about our own bodies, sexuality and reproduction.  That’s what reproductive justice is about at its core.

     

    Abortion is not genocide.  Abortion is health care, and ALL WOMEN deserve access to the best health care.  

     

    Aimee R. Thorne-Thomsen

    Executive Director

    Pro-Choice Public Education Project (PEP)

  • prochoiceferret

    But let’s be clear. Those who make the "abortion as genocide" argument do not care about communities of color. They do not come from our communities. They do not know our realities.

    It’s often led me to wonder… if the Black community had a ranked laundry list of all the issues that have been bugging them, around what number would this whole "Klanned Parenthood" issue come in? And would it be above or below "Morgan Freeman always portraying magical Negro Gods lately?"

  • amanda-marcotte

    Your argument is that you’re not racist for thinking black women can’t make their own decisions, because you believe all women, regardless of race, are idiots who need to be told what to do by you? 

  • teedub

    This was a very thoughtful article and i enjoyed reading it. I won’t comment on the central issue(s)…eugenics and paternalism but on the side-issue of locations of new PP clinics and what the pro-lifers divine from them.
    I am a cynic and suspect the reason for the location chosen for new PP clinics has less to do with targeting certain racial communities and more to do with the non-minority (lets just say it…white) neighborhoods practicing NIMBY. I just can’t see any middle to upper class white community approving a permit to build an "abortion center" in their part of town. I would be willing to bet their city planning guidelines prohibit that sort of business within certain areas (ahem…white part) of town. It’s racist of course, but not in the way the pro-lifers portray it to be.

  • marysia

    aimee writes:
    – If they did, they would have been fighting like hell to pass health care reform last year and against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where were they when Clinton passed so-called “welfare reform”? Anti-choice opponents want to make the case that abortion is destroying our communities. Well, what about poverty, violence, and racism as genocide? –

    i *am* fighting for universal health, against the wars, against poverty, violence, and racism as genocide…and when clinton was “reforming” welfare i was working with poor pregnant clients, mainly women of color, in clinical practice and writing letters, signing petitions, whatever i could do to speak out against those intolerable slashes in already too slim social welfare benefits.


    On Common Ground Columnist & Editor, Nonviolent Choice Directory

  • notgreen

    Medically accurate knowledge would be great! Thats all you need, to know that abortion kills a real live person at a stage of development that everyone reading this once was at. So come on now, tell the truth.

  • progo35

    AM-You know how Pro choice ferret accused me of being a racist ableist and suggested that I "should get help"? Well, here I go: I think that you behave like a stuck up snob who should stop looking down your nose at other people who do not agree with you. Not agreeing with you does not make someone a mysogynist, ableist, or racist. Perhaps you should "get help" to better grasp the fact that people who disagree with your ideals in this matter also have high ideals and reasons for thinking the way that they do, instead of demeaning everyone who has a different opinion than you.

     

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

  • niteowle

    Until you anti-choicers stop lying about the non-existent "post-abortion syndorme", lying about abortion causing breast cancer, lying about abortion causing infertility, and setting up "crisis pregnancy centers" designed to trick women into thinking they are visiting a real medical clinic, you have no business whatsoever using the word "truth".

  • rhmo

    I’m a Baby Boomer who remembers what it was like before the Women’s Movement, the Pill and the I.U.D. Females were considered property and, according to the prevailing belief , incompetent to make decisions about our lives and health. Men (whose own ‘knowledge’ and ‘wisdom’ were saturated with myths) made the key decisions. Out of ignorance, ‘good girls’ were often driven to desperate and tragic actions. Planned Parenthood provided women with superior health services and reproductive information. 40 years ago, I used Planned Parenthood as a graduate student. An ‘unplanned’ pregnancy was not the reason for my visit. Instead of the usual patronizing OB/GYN, I found an atmosphere where I was free to be an intelligent, responsible person. There was no pressure, exhortation or propaganda. It’s evident that when women are left in charge of our bodies, more chose to give birth! The abortion rate was declining until the Bush Administration. Restrictions may have contributed to increases in abortions during the past decade. And every time I pass Planned Parenthood’s offices and the picket signs, I wonder how many unintended pregnancies would be prevented if more used their services.

  • emma

    Medically accurate knowledge would be great! Thats all you need, to know that abortion kills a real live person at a stage of development that everyone reading this once was at. So come on now, tell the truth.

    Yes, that’s it! The silly womenfolk just need to be told what an abortion is, because we’re idiots who’d otherwise think we were aborting kittens! Thank you so much for imparting your entirely medically accurate and not at all ideologically driven knowledge (‘abortion kills a real live person’) of abortion.

     

    Thank you, as well, for proving the point that anti-choicers are misogynists who think women are fucking morons in need of guidance from our betters.

  • emma

    I think this is a really good article, and I’m glad someone’s addressed this. It’s quite fascinating to see anti-choice conservatives attempting to establish their anti-racist cred by implying, essentially, that minority women are so malleable and clueless that the mere presence of a Planned Parenthood clinic will cause hordes of them to terminate pregnancies they’d otherwise keep — and have no idea that they’re being racist, paternalistic and insulting.

     

    Most of these people, of course, cheer on invasions of countries populated by people with darker complexions and support torturing anyone with a Muslim-sounding name.

     

    I feel ill now.

  • prochoicegoth

    The only person involved is the woman and she is not being killed. A fetus is not a person, as a person is born and doesn’t need to be inside of or connected to another person for survival. 

     

    You people wouldn’t know truth if it bit you on the bum and left a calling card. 


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • prochoicegoth

    Please tell me you’re not seriously saying these disgustingly biased anti-choice links are reality…..


    It’s pro-choice or
    NO choice.

  • cat

    Abortion actually makes up a very miniscule part of PP’s services. Upwards of 95% of services actually provided are not abortion. PP is a not for profit organization and it subsidizes (or does for free) many services that low income women are in particular need of. The majority of services provided are birth control, sex ed, and STD testing and treatment. My older sister, who is not supportive of abortion, went to PP to get her wanted pregnancy confirmed because she had no insurance and was not eligible for medicaid without proof of pregnancy. When I lost my insurance and needed birth control pills to treat a medical condition, PP provided me with them for free. Women with wealth would not have needed to head for the nearest PP to get STD treatment or birth control, because they can pay for private carriers. PP provides nonabortion basic reproductive health care to many poor women whose other option is to do without.  Many of these clinics in poor communities were built at the request of women living in these communities. And, I know more than one poor woman who is against abortion or who is on the fence about abortion who is an ardent supporter of PP.

  • cat

    Another point, I think comparing black kids to ‘endangered species’ sounds pretty nastily racist all by itself. Seriously, don’t these people who made the billboards get that black children are members the same species as white children?

  • emma

    Quite possibly, PP clinics have moved to areas in which there’s a high level of demand for their services, including services unrelated to abortion.

     

    But such ideas might suggest that poor and/or minority women have agency, and may even be capable of recognising what they want and need. And that wouldn’t fit into the anti-choicer narrative, in which women are passive, malleable and entirely unable to think.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Appears to be your preogative, then?  Alongside sneering at the idea that women are smart enough to be trusted to make their own decisions about their own bodies? 

     

    The problem is that the anti-choice position is an argument against my intelligence on the grounds that I’m female.  My refusal to agree is interpreted as "sneering", but that seems to be more of a function of the belief about how women should act than anything I’ve done.

  • amanda-marcotte

    I can see why you’d think that, but in general, Planned Parenthood sets up in both low income and middle class neighborhoods.  That they are building one here doesn’t mean they’re avoiding doing so elsewhere.  But like Pamela said, a lot of time, you will find the bigger Planned Parenthood branches in neighborhoods that don’t have a lot of other places for women to get basic medical care, and that’s mostly because the demand is so high for the services and they need bigger facilities to handle it all.  When I was in college and relying on Planned Parenthood for gynecological care, I went to two separate branches.  For one year, I lived in a low income neighborhood and the Planned Parenthood was pretty large.  Then I moved to a middle class neighborhood, and that Planned Parenthood was small.  But you could immediately tell why the first one was bigger—they  had a lot more patients!  The waiting room was always crowded, and you had a lot more male patients, because again, it was the only game in the neighborhood when it came to offering many basic services at a reasonable price.

  • amanda-marcotte

    Define a movement by its outliers.  That you 1% of anti-choicers are otherwise liberal doesn’t really say much about the anti-choice position.  In 99% of cases, it’s associate with hard right politics.   You’re making the "My grandfather smoked for 70 years and died when hit by a train, so smoking isn’t dangerous" argument.  Sorry, it is.  And exceptions like you merely prove the rule.

  • jodi-jacobson

    One other point to add to Amanda’s points.

     

     

    The money and political strength (not in terms of actual representation of people but in terms of key districts gerrymandered to produce hard-right candidates) that affects real policies which in turn affect real lives comes from groups like Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the ALL and others. Unless and until the views you hold— –as laudable as they are generally are–are backed by political power they are not going to affect much on any scale.

     

    Today even the so-called "progressive" conservative religious groups like Sojourners and Catholics United won’t support contraception for example, and Faith in Public Life was pushing both Stupak and Nelson and are "squeamish" on reproductive health generally, so they are useless for women in that regard.

     

    And in the end no other position or gains in other areas–again as necessary and laudable as they are– obviate the fact that ultimately it is a woman’s right to decide whether or not to carry an unwanted pregnancy.

     

    I respect and appreciate your positions–with the exception of your anti-choice stand, which is yours to exercise but not to impose on others–but I honestly don’t think they are politically powerful right now.

  • progo35

    Practically all I do all day is fight for my rights. I am not "acting like a typical female" and embodying the mysogynist stereotype of a woman who should be seen and not heard, and I certainly wouldn’t want that for other women. You want to portray me and those like me like mysogynists because it shuts down discussion. After all, who would listen to anything an avowed mysogynist says? It’s no better than pro life people who go around calling pro choice people "pro death" people or women who have abortions "baby killers." Again, who would listen to someone who is "pro death" or afford any respect to someone who has killed her baby?

     

    As for what you’ve done, you perpetually sneer at those who disagree with you by calling us misogynist, stupid, ignorant, racist, and attacking other females like Sarah Palin because of their political stance in very personal and crude ways, such as by saying that she should have listened to the pro choice women who have told her not to be politically involved, but that she has decided to take that advice and "wipe her butt with it."

     

    As a woman, I was also very surprised and offended when you used the word "boobies" to describe women’s breasts and referred to breast cancer screening as "booby squishing." From my perspective that is an extremely insensitive and ignorant thing to say, particularly coming from a woman’s health advocate. If someone who was pro life said something like that, you would jump down their throats, and rightfully so. But, since your saying that, those who criticize you "have no sense of humor." In my opinion, breast cancer and the treatment/prevention thereof falls beyond the pall of what can be joked about in good taste, regardless of gender. It also disturbed me to see you and others on this site advocating for less breast cancer screening based on one study. That doesn’t seem prudent at all, especially coming from a women’s health advocate.

     

    So, really, I am not "arguing against your intelligence because you are female." I am saying that there is a very insulting, condescending, rude, inconsiderate and childish tone in many of your articles. That has nothing to do with the fact that you are a woman.  

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

  • progo35

    Cat, that slogan is NOT meant to be taken literally. Clearly it is a play on the “save the endangered species” concerns that many pro choice people support while being okay with killing fetuses. Ie, the slogan is a play on the idea that some pro choice people care WAY more about saving the whales than about saving unborn members of their OWN SPECIES who may be being disproportionately destroyed by abortion.

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

  • harry834

    many pro choice people support while being okay with killing fetuses

    pro choice people care WAY more about saving the whales than about
    saving unborn members of their OWN SPECIES who may be being
    disproportionately destroyed by abortion.

     

    I don’t see how we can have a mindset like this without claiming that the women who have these abortions are themselves killers and destroyers of their own species. And notice that I said "mindset", rather than "statement". Because even if you chose not to say these words, they would still be a part of your view and the pro-life view. 

    And I think this is why Amanda has given you such flak. Because, as much as you try to have a respectful dialogue, and show sympathy towards women in your words, the fact is the pro-life view is a view that necessarilly states that the women who have abortions are killers, destroyers of their species, perpetrators of genocide…except that these things are never overtly said. Instead pro-lifers talk about manipulative doctors, boyfiends, "culture of death", etc, etc…anything but about the woman’s own choice and desire to end a pregnancy. You can’t call an act murder, without calling the actor a murderer. You can’t call an act theft, without calling the person a thief….except in the overt sense. Pro-lifers, for the most part, never overtly say women are killers. But they do say abortion is killing. So how should women who seek abortions receive this viewpoint? 

    Moreover, do pro-lifers really not want women to have this guilt? Maybe they avoid saying "women are killers", but they know that calling what they do an act of killing will have the effect of these women thinking that way about themselves, or at least they hope. The guilt is what pro-lifers count on to persuade women away from abortion, correct?

    There are other pro-choicers who will try a gentler approach in debate than some others. But I am hoping that what I have pointed out will explain why the less-gentle pro-choicers are as angry as they are.

     

  • harry834

    or at least try, why pro-choicers have stated that pro-lifers "don’t see the woman" or are "anti-woman"

    In each of the above examples of life – the whale, the endangered species – and others that have been put forth in this discourse (disabled people, vegetaivtive state people)…each of these is different from the fetus in the uterus in that, the fetus is in the uterus. And that uterus belongs to a woman, whom we all agree has human rights of self-determination. Why would self-determination exclude the ability to use medical science to control her ability to reproduce? Surely we all understand why a woman would want to use this modern ability, and her reasons are not small. 

    None of the other examples of life listed are applicable, beacuse they are all separate from the woman. There are those that will argue that the fetus is separate from the woman, and by genetic perspective that is true. At some point, some claim that is also true from a gestational perspective, though the guy that told me that (Logical Brian) said that happens at 9 weeks. 9 weeks!? The woman still has to carry for months more!

    I feel it goes without saying that pregnancy is a life-altering, emotionally-affecting, health-affecting process for the woman in a way it will not affect anyone else, no matter how they feel about abortion. Notice I said "affecting", so that doesn’t necessarilly mean abnormal complications, but pregnancy always means a dramatic effect and affect on the woman’s life. This matrix of possibilities/consequences does not change either before or after pregnancy begins, so it is very unpersuasive for pro-lifers to respond to what I’ve said by saying, "she should have thought about that before getting pregnant". This may probably be right (assuming its not rape), but the point is that the possibilities/consequences do not change before or after pregnancy begins. 

    So yes, abortion is used like a type birth control after pregnancy begins. That really is the primary motive for why women get it…at least in the early stages. Late pregnancy abortions are usually done on wanted preganancies that have gone horribly wrong.

    This debate is about whether the women who seek abortions are killers/murderers/genocidalists…or not. At least in an objective definition of "killing". What any woman with a preganacy feels subjectively about abortion is her business. But should "abortion = killing" become an objective view? I say "view" to include not just what the law should allow, but what people should believe as a matter of objective (rather than subjective) morality.

    To say that any act is murder, is to say that those who do the act are murderers. Doctors do the act…after they are hired by women to do it. And SO many women do not have regret and never will. Are these remorseless killers? Should even a killer with remorse be immune from legal prosecution and social judgment?

    I’m hoping this fills in the gaps. 

  • harry834

    The commercial about Time Tebow’s rise from being a fetus could have easily been about any woman’s rise to being a star. Specifically, I speak of the women who have had abortions. What happens to a woman after she has an abortion?

    Possibly one of the first things is to learn about better birth control, so for many of these women, their first abortion is also their last. And to talk with their partner about risks and how to avoid them…so she becomes more confident and comfortable in relationships. 

    But perhaps she already had all the confidence and mental focus she needed before the pregnancy, but now she’s back on track to using it. Her career blossoms. She finds the joy in life. She has friendships and relationships that may or may not lead to marriage. She might even be an athlete like Tim Tebow! I wonder how many female athletes have secretly had abortions…

    Pro-lifers told us to mourn "what if" these fetuses never were born and lived? I say what if these women never got to live their lives? An unplanned pregnancy changes a lot of things, and while many will have anecdotes and stories of women who managed to "do both", these stories may leave out certain details, and even if not, my story won’t necessarilly turn out like someone else’s story.

    In trying to inquire how women really feel after having an abortion or after choosing to parent or after choosing to use adoption, we have to consider all stories. That means we have to consider the silent stories of women who regret having children but never say so. Don’t think these women exist? Really? Will even some/many children ever know what lies in their mother’s mind and heart?

     

  • progo35

    Harry-I wouldn’t waste time defending how Amanda behaves toward those who disagree, because as far as I am concerned, there is no excuse for her behavior in terms of having a respectful dialogue and showing a general respect for others. Being nasty is unproductive, childish, and reflective of a self-aggrandizing mindset.

     

    Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I simply do think that there is a difference between thinking that abortion is murder and that women who have them are murderers. To me, a murderer is someone who intentionally acts to end someone else’s life. Even though I know that women who have abortions know that they are killing a human fetus, I believe that most don’t view what they are doing as murder, so, I regard the act as being a tragic one borne of a particular perspective, and not a cold, calculated decison to kill another person.

     

    As for contradictions, "you can’t call something murder and not imply that the person doing it as a murderer, you can’t call something stealing and not imply that the person doing it is a theif," etc… I happen to think that a lot of pro choice rhetoric is logically untenable. Pro choice ideology regards the fetus’ status as enitrely dependent on what the woman thinks of it. If the woman wants a baby, than a five month old fetus is a baby. If she doesn’t, them it’s not. If saying something is murder makes a person a murderer, than saying that a five month old fetus is a baby in some cases but not in others is just as inconsistent, yet such a contradiction is pivotal to your position. I’m sure that in your mind, there are certain differences that ameliorate this contradiction, just as those I have described above ameliorate the contradictions inherent in the pro life position. "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • harry834

    not all killings are cold and calculated. Besides, women who seek abortions are using their calculation skill – to find the clinic, transport, to do it without telling certain others, to get the money together, to schedule the apointment,etc

  • harry834

    "If saying something is murder makes a person a murderer, than saying
    that a five month old fetus is a baby in some cases but not in others
    is just as inconsistent"

    I don’t think I have ever said that fetus not= baby. I know other prochoicers have done this. I do admit, I tend to use the term fetus rather than "unborn child".

    But whatever we call it, all my above arguments about the woman’s stake in their own reproductive autonomy still apply, unless you have any other points.

  • harry834

    women can attempt self-abortions. Of course this is dangerous for the woman, but if abortion equals killing, and we have to stop that, then we can’t just focus on stopping doctors. We need to stop women in their own homes or private lives beacuse that is where abortions-without-doctors take place. They have before. People have assisted women in private settings. And internet, paper brochures are out there. We need to stop the women themselves, whereever they are,

    right?

  • pilar608

    Even though I know that women who have abortions know that they are killing a human fetus, I believe that most don’t view what they are doing as murder, so, I regard the act as being a tragic one borne of a particular perspective, and not a cold, calculated decison to kill another person.

    So, if a woman murdered her three-month-old and didn’t regard it as murder because the child didn’t have higher cognitive functions yet, you’d be just fine with calling her act a tragedy borne of a particular perspective and not charging her with murder, right?

    If a woman murdered her grandmother with advanced Alzheimer’s, and didn’t regard it as murder because her grandmother had lost everything that made her herself, you’d be just fine with letting the woman go, right?

  • progo35

    No, but neither would the law, pilar. As for prosecuting women who have abortions, I do think that the issue of abortion is too complex to simply say, "lock her up." Even when abortion was illegal, women were never locked up for having them.

     

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

  • harry834

    and why shouldn’t prison time be an acceptable punishment for those who kill a baby? What "complexities" do you mean?And how would any hypothetical complexities mitigate the punishment beyond the case by case basis? It sounds like your advocating that no women should go to prison?

    I feel the real answer is popularity of the law, which doesn’t strike as a moral or sound legal reason to create an exception in the criminal code for homicide penalties…for ALL people who employ a particular method of murder (as opposed to case by case mitigating circumstances, which often still result in some jail time, a charge of manslaughter, etc.)

    Can a killer escape prosecution if the majority of people prefer that? Or is it determined by criminal codes? Why should murder by abortion not result in sending sizeable numbers of women to jail (with the exceptions of individual women that might get mitigating circumstances, as is the case with any murder sentencing…but not every woman, or I think even most women)

  • qualine

    Your comment that "We do not associate the Ford Motor Company with anti-semitism, despite the well documented history of it’s founder Henry Ford in collaborating with Nazis" is a very poor analogy and is intellectually dishonest. A better analogy would be this: Suppose Henry Ford set up two assembly lines; one which produced cars which would blow up and kill Jews and the other which would produce safe cars for the rest of the population. In this case Ford Motor Company would properly ever be associated with darkness. In conclusion, Henry Ford did not allow his perverted world view to manifest itself in the product he created…Margaret Sanger did.

  • harry834

    to think that there needs to be thought in constructing the penalties in legal practice. It seems like nobody has given real thought to this issue. But, whatever the details, no matter how long it may take to work them out, there should be certain things we can expect should happen if we are following legal precdent, and not our own comfort levels.

    1. Any act considered homicide is going to result in some jail time for least many, if not most, of the people involved in the act. This includes the women as well as the doctors, boyfriends, pressuring family members.

    2. Whether homicide is "cold, calculating" or passionate might result in reduced jail time/labeling (ie manslaughter instead of murder), but not in guarenteed exemption from prosecution for all who committ that act.

    3. We can’t exempt a homicide perp from prosecution/jail simply because we feel sympathy for their motives. Parents have killed their children as a result of sypathetic reasons like stress or financial instability. We still have to prosecute those parents, and there is a high liklihood of giving them jail time unless…

    4. someone might argue an "insanity defense" or the like that might justify sending them to a rehab institution rather than prison. But this rehab is often mandatory, and requires that their rehab involve therapists trying to work with the offender to get him/her to realize that what they did was killing.

    Are we ready to do these things for women who get abortions? Someday, we have to.

     

    **All the above things only deal with the woman after the abortion. What about if we knew a woman was going to have an abortion? We would need responses similar to police trying to stop a killing. These would have to be tailored to the abortion situation, of course, but that could mean more strict rules, than we would for other types of violence prevention.

    For example, I mentioned above the possibility that women could try self-abortions. They might just even try downing vodkas. Women who couldn’t find a doctor have taken matters into their own hands before. While we are all afraid for their own health, under these new views we would then have to stop these abortion attempts for the purpose of stopping infanticides. We would need to monitor women throughout their nine months, at least if we know they have sought abortion at any time diring their pregnancy.

    Even if they seek doctors, we still have to monitor women, because directing suppression efforts at the doctor alone will not stop the woman from doing her seeking. Women have traveled far to find doctors that were not there (or shut down) in their local area. And there are people then and now that are willing to help women abort without doctors. There are stories of people who did underground abortion acts. We can demonize these people, put up wanted posters, etc, etc. But what will we do to stop the women from seeking? From going for the coat hangers? From trying an abortion pill (there may be bottles of this stuff in the modern day, we may not need doctors as much, and even if FDA takes it back, people will still keep pills to share).

     

  • harry834

    but the pill itself is not anti-semetic. Neither is the abortion procedure. Either one of these is only anti-semetic, racist, if used by people in those ways.

    But both these things alone are just medical products, procedures (no matter how one thinks about them morally)

  • jodi-jacobson

    This is one of the most convulted "arguments"–if it can be called that–that i have heard.

     

    Margaret Sanger did not invent birth control or family planning.  Women did…..people have used withdrawal and rhythm methods for thousands of years, as they also developed pessaries, herbal douches and other crude devices for preventing conception.  They also devised all sorts of means to end unintended pregnancies, as dangerous as these were.  Condoms were made in the 1800s, long before Sanger was born.  She underwrote development of the contraceptive pill by Carl Djerras…..but I fail to see how that is racist in and of itself, as contraceptive pills only work with the daily consent of the woman taking it.

     

    Honestly, stretching the truth….and even stretching the concept of what truth is, seems to be a major pasttime of the anti-choice community. 

     

    Tell me this: Do you believe that no woman is intelligent enough to decide for herself whether and when to have children and whether and when to use birth control?

  • cat

    If it’s not calling black people a different species, then it would not even make sense.  If all humans were an endangered species, the fact that there are billions and billions of us kind of makes the idea absurd.  "members of their OWN SPECIES who may be being disproportionately destroyed by abortion"  Wait, have we started doing abortions on other species now?  That’s news to me….  Abortion is a health care procedure done on humans, so of course it will be humans who affected by it.  The whole slogan only works if one thinks of blacks as a distinct species from whites.  Think about it, would you refer to a common species with a certain subset of the species being rare or decreasing as endangered?  You wouldn’t say that because Tibetan Mastiffs are extremely rare that dogs are an endangered species.  The idea of black people as an endangered species presupposes blacks to be a different species than the rest of the human population.  There is a very long history of racists calling blacks a different species and these billboards perpetuate that idea.

  • progo35

    ‘Wait, have we started doing abortions on other species now?"

     

    Actually, cat, abortions ARE performed on other species, such as cats and dogs when they become pregnant. There are vets who provide abortions to pets when owners request them. That, however, is a side issue. Moving on to more important things…

    "The whole slogan only works if one thinks of blacks as a distinct species from whites. "

    This is conflated as well. Clearly, while people of different races have the same faculties, dignity and potential, they are considered to be different races. Would you consider it more appropriate if, for instance, the billboard said, "the black race is being adversly and disproportionately impacted by the abortion of black fetuses?" That’s what the billboard is saying. Like I said, the statement is playing off of the "save the endangered species" slogans that are common in America. It is a parody of that saying, the people using it are not applying it in the same way. As for the saying "only making sense if one thinks that black people are different species than white people," that just indicates that it only makes sense to you if one makes that presumption, not that it doesn’t make sense to others without that presumption.

     

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

  • prochoiceferret

    Actually, cat, abortions ARE performed on other species, such as cats and dogs when they become pregnant.

    Oy! Let’s hope that PersonhoodUSA and PETA never come across each other. Some scary synergy they might have going there. "Feline abortion kills kittens!!"

    This is conflated as well. Clearly, while people of different races have the same faculties, dignity and potential, they are considered to be different races. Would you consider it more appropriate if, for instance, the billboard said, "the black race is being adversly and disproportionately impacted by the abortion of black fetuses?"

    That would be more appropriate, although you’d need a pretty large billboard to fit all that in.

    That’s what the billboard is saying.

    No, the billboard in question is saying that Blacks are an endangered species, not an endangered race. See? I see the word "species," not "race."

    Like I said, the statement is playing off of the "save the endangered species" slogans that are common in America. It is a parody of that saying, the people using it are not applying it in the same way.

    Yeah, kind of how like racist jokes aren’t really racist. Hah hah, it’s funny! Unless you are a Black person, of course. Then it’s just… you know… racist.

    As for the saying "only making sense if one thinks that black people are different species than white people," that just indicates that it only makes sense to you if one makes that presumption, not that it doesn’t make sense to others without that presumption.

    Well, lots of people tend to think of Blacks as being a separate, non-human species, so naturally the billboard would make sense to them (i.e. in a save-the-dumb-whales kind of way). If you don’t think that Blacks are a non-human species, then the billboard would also make sense (i.e. in a shamelessly racist and dehumanizing way).

  • colleen

     Would you consider it more appropriate if, for instance, the billboard
    said, "the black race is being adversly and disproportionately impacted
    by the abortion of black fetuses?"

    I do hope you’re not claiming that either choice would be appropriate. The billboards are not.  Appropriate and truthful would be a billboard that says "the black race is being adversely and disproportionately impacted by people who vote for republicans"

     The overt racists in the country openly refer to African-Americans as a seperate species and have done so for a very long time now. If you doubt this it’s easy enough to google. There are books written by some Flower of the Confederacy in 1837 that speak of the ‘negro species’ and there are recent posts on the Stormfront blog that do the same. (Stormfront is very ‘pro-life’,)

    I don’t believe your spin for a moment. The use of ‘species’ was deliberate and was not intended to be a parody.Indeed I doubt of the folks who put it up understand what a parody is anymore than poor Qualine downthread understands what an analogy is. 

     

     

    The only difference between the American anti-abortion movement and the Taliban is about 8,000 miles.

    Dr Warren Hern, MD

  • progo35

    I’m well aware of the history regarding the oppression of African Americans. I just don’t think that that is the billboard’s intent. After all, if someone really hated black people, wouldn’t they be HAPPY that black fetuses are being aborted in greater numbers than white fetuses? And, again, what about pro life black people who may agree with what the billboard says, or may even have participated in developing that slogan? Are you saying that they are racist against their own race??

     

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

  • prochoiceferret

    I’m well aware of the history regarding the oppression of African Americans. I just don’t think that that is the billboard’s intent.

    That’s okay. Lots of White people think that some blatantly racist things aren’t racist, even when they’re well aware of the history regarding the oppression of African Americans, and think MLK Jr. was the coolest Black guy ever. Congratulations, you have privilege!

    After all, if someone really hated black people, wouldn’t they be HAPPY that black fetuses are being aborted in greater numbers than white fetuses?

    Not if they hated womens’ sexuality more than they hated Black people.

    And, again, what about pro life black people who may agree with what the billboard says, or may even have participated in developing that slogan? Are you saying that they are racist against their own race??

    Yeah, that’d be about as ridiculous as an anti-choice woman.

  • crowepps

    Actually, you might want to do a little reading up on the history of eugenics which was widely popular globally until the Nazis demonstrated the flaws in the idea.

    First, Margaret Sanger wasn’t the one who came up with the idea at all. The term was first used by Sir Francis Galton, who hope to encourage changes in social mores which would encourage to VOLUNTARILY refrain from having children if there was a history in their family of inherited problems.  The idea was taken up by many scientists, the most famous in the United States being Charles Davenport, as well as a multitude of ‘social reformers’ and governments.  All of them were dependent upon the state of knowledge at the time, which taught that the many talents and weaknesses of humanity were inherited by ‘breeding’ rather than environment.

     

    Governments who wished to save money by decreasing the number of people needing government support lept on the idea as a way to save money by weeding out the ‘unfit’ (by which they mainly meant needing tax monies spent on rather than being able to pay taxes) and passing laws to involuntarily sterilize people with various ‘disorders’ purported to be a result of ‘poor breeding’.  Later, of course, it was found that they were wrong and many of the problems they deplored were caused by vitamin deficiencies, parasites, traumatic events, etc., or were only a problem in the prejudiced eyes of the persons making the decisions.

     

    Another famous American proponent of the theory was Alexander Graham Bell, who wished to eliminte congenital deafness, and who invented the telephone as an aide to the deaf.  I haven’t noticed anyone insisting that telephones are ‘evil’ because Bell was a ‘eugenicist’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics#Notable_proponents

     

    These days, voluntary eugenics as promoted by Sir Francis Galton is still practiced, although due to the infamy that sticks to the term, they instead call it ‘genetic counseling’.

    Genetic counseling or counselling (UK English) is the process by which patients or relatives, at risk of an inherited disorder, are advised of the consequences and nature of the disorder, the probability of developing or transmitting it, and the options open to them in management and family planning in order to prevent, avoid or ameliorate it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_counseling

  • crowepps

     black fetuses are being aborted in greater numbers than white fetuses

    That’s the problem with drawing conclusions without understanding what you’re reading.

     

    Black fetuses are NOT being aborted in greater numbers than white fetuses.  In raw numbers, most abortions are of WHITE fetuses.

     

    Black fetuses are being aborted in higher PERCENTAGES than white fetuses.

     

    This is not ‘genocide’ because over their lifetimes Black women have more children than do White women and statistically the PERCENTAGE of Black infants is larger than the number of white infants.  Poverty and its side-effects, such as higher infant and child mortality rates, living in high crime neighborhoods, etc., reduce those numbers quickly but I haven’t seen anyone ProLife protesting that ghettos are genocide.

  • progo35

    “First, Margaret Sanger wasn’t the one who came up with the idea at all. The term was first used by Sir Francis Galton, who hope to encourage changes in social mores which would encourage to VOLUNTARILY refrain from having children if there was a history in their family of inherited problems.”

    First of all, Crowepps, you capitalize voluntarily as if that made Galton’s intentions okay. Moreover, Galton’s writings bear out that he actually did support compulsory sterilization if the society could not be made prejudiced enough for disabled and otherwise undesirable to “voluntarily” choose not to procreate.

    Moreover, genetic counseling is often extremely prejudicial because couples are immediately referred there in order to make them more amenable to an abortion if there is a problem. A woman interviewed by CBS recounted this very process when she told the doctor that she planned to carry her fetus with down syndrome to term. They were given no support for this choice, just a referral to a genetic counselor. Moreover, why aren’t there counselors specifically to aid parents who wish to keep their pregnancies? Because society wants such people to have abortions so that it wont’ have to deal with anyone who has a disability.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • crowepps

    Am I understanding you correctly?  Of course there is a big difference between voluntary and government mandated.  Someone from a family that’s dysfunctional because of many bipolar individuals should be able to choose not to pass down the pain through another generation.

     

    Are you actually saying that people who have inherited diseases in their family shouldn’t be able to voluntarily decide that they don’t want to have biological children?  I realize you’re a passionate advocate for the disabled, Progo, but I didn’t realize that your advocacy extended to actually requiring parents to create disabled infants.

     

    Obviously you didn’t go to the link, since it emphasized that in those cases where there is a family history of a known heritable disorder, the genetic counseling should be done before conception.  Downs’ Syndrome, of course, is not an ‘inherited disorder’ at all but instead a failure in the mechanics of reproduction.

  • emma

    Yeah, I think you’ve understood her correctly. She’s called me a eugenicist in the past for saying I didn’t want to pass along The Crazy to any potential people and that I’d terminate if necessary to prevent it from happening. (Not bipolar; major depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder – all of it largely resolved – & a not fantastic family history. And I don’t want kidlets for more reasons than that.) Actually, she’s called most of us eugenicists at some point or another. You know how she can get a bit personally vicious at times. I think personal decisions not to have kids on the basis that one doesn’t want to create people who are likely to go through a fair bit of misery can’t reasonably be termed ‘eugenics’, and if it can, then tough cookies. Others are welcome to disagree.

  • progo35

    Even the smartest, most competent and liberated woman/person does not make decisions in the absence of social influence. For instance, pardon me for bringing my disability into the discussion again, but it is the springing point upon which I base much of my empathy for people facing unjust circumstance. In my case, I am currently being denied an accommodation that I need at school. I may have to take legal action in order to make sure that I have access to the curiculum, even though I really don’t want to do this.

    In a just society, I would never be placed in a situation where threatening to sue my school may be the best option for me in terms of assuring my future. In that sense, the decision to call a lawyer is made in the context of social prejudice I am facing, and is not being made purely of my own free will. I believe more women would choose to carry their fetuses with down syndrome to term if we didn’t live in a soceity that harbors the eugenic philosophies of it’s past. That is what I am talking about when I say that genetic counseling is often prejudicial. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t ever go to such counselors or that such counseling is inherently wrong, I am saying that the way it is often used is wrong.

    Society manifests an extreme hatred of the handicapped that influences women’s decisions in these matters. This hatred must be rectified so that women do not feel that they need to have abortions in order to spare their child from pain and suffering.

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

  • progo35

    Crowepps and Emma, Neither of you understood what I wrote. I didn’t say that parents shouldn’t have the option of using genetic counseling. I SAID that the way genetic counseling is used is often inhrently prejudicial. There’s a big difference between saying that people shouldn’t be able to use that resource and saying that it is often used to promote certain social prejudices. What I’m saying is that doctors often react in a knee-jerk way and tell parents about termination procedures immediately after they find out about something like down syndrome and do not present other options. Moreover, for people who whine and moan about parental notification laws as being things that impede women’s reproductive decisions, even if they do not illegalize abortion, you should understand that society creates an environment where voluntary abstension from procreation is expected and those who do not do this are looked down upon. This creates an environment where women are manipulated into getting an abortion because, in the face of a lack of support, they feel that that is their only good option. For instance, look at this youtube video about the connection between genetic counseling and trying to push women towards abortion in the case of prenatal diagnosis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvowFbfz4Gw "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • crowepps

    you should understand that society creates an environment where voluntary abstension from procreation is expected and those who do not do this are looked down upon.

    Expected?  Really?  What society is that?  Canada?

     

    Sorry for the bulleted posts, trying to get the grandkids past the sea of magazines at the checkout counter with women bulging their implants out of their low-cut dresses and half naked men flexing their back muscles and announcements of which hollywood stars are having sex with whom.  Brought them to the store because all the programs on right now are full of hot sex scenes and suggestive dancing.  Wouldn’t be leaving so quickly but they were asking embarrassing questions about what the couple who were making out back in the bakery section were doing.

     

    Sorry for the little fantasy sequence, but I really couldn’t resist, because aside from little islands of ‘purity’ like Bible College, American society has created an environment where ‘everybody’s doing it’ and those who aren’t are looked down upon as losers too fat, ugly or geeky to be attractive.

  • progo35

    Speaking of fantasy worlds, you must live in one if you do not acknowledge the pernicious influence of social prejudice on all aspects of a disabled person’s life, including reproductive decisions.

     

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

  • cat

    I am pro-choice and support the right to abortion and I tend to agree with Progo’s premises in regards to the disability issue. "There’s a big difference between saying that people shouldn’t be able to use that resource and saying that it is often used to promote certain social prejudices. What I’m saying is that doctors often react in a knee-jerk way and tell parents about termination procedures immediately after they find out about something like down syndrome and do not present other options." That’s absolutely true. And prochoice people do need to consider this an important issue. Women should be as informed as possible when making their choices (this is not to say that women who are less informed should be systematically denied the right to choose). We do live in a world where many women’s choices are constrained by sexism, poverty, etc., but in no way is denying women our limited choices going to improve that. The answer is not to strip us of the self determination that we have, but to work to give us more choices. Forcing a poor woman to have a child she cannot afford does not help anyone, but setting up a country in which she has better financial and social options does help her. We need MORE choices, not less.

     

     

     "Society manifests an extreme hatred of the handicapped that influences women’s decisions in these matters. This hatred must be rectified so that women do not feel that they need to have abortions in order to spare their child from pain and suffering." Progo, you don’t get to have it both ways. You don’t get to assert that these women are acting out of eugenist attitudes while claiming that they are being ‘manipulated’ into aborting fetuses that may become children with disabilities. The thing is, when you let people have selfdetermination and bodily autonomy, they are going to make decisions that you don’t like for reasons you don’t like. I support free speech, so, I support the right of Bill O’Reilly to free speech. This does not mean that I agree with his words or his motives, it means that I consider this right important and not to be denied to someone just because I disagree with them. People get to assert rights over their own bodies even if they are doing it from ablist motivations. It is important to consider too that applying that logic these billboards and to black women deciding to get abortions is saying that black women are racists who think that black children would be inferior, which is a pretty nasty view about how much black people value black children. I do not believe that the reason black women have abortions is because they hate black people. Black women have abortions for about the same reasons white women do, however, the lack of reproductive health care to black communities results in higher unwanted pregnancy rates and therefore higher abortion rates.

     

    To the rest of you, may I also say that the ablism in response to Progo’s mostly accurate statements about ablism in our society is not cool and is a large part of why many feminists with disabilities feel alienated by the prochoice movement. Telling someone their life is inferior is not a way to build consensus. I’m going to link to a post on this issue over at Feminists With Disabilities http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/29/law-order-dignity-worth-and-the-medical-model-of-disability/ We do not need to dehumanize people with disabilities to respect the humanity of women.

  • jayn

    I don’t htink Progo was saying disabled people are expected to not have sex (any more than others are, anyways) but that they’re expected not to have kids, lest they produce more disabled people.  Personally, I wouldn’t blame someone for not having kids for this reason, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t respect and support someone who decided to have kids anyways.

  • crowepps

    And you just can’t seem to grasp that I do actually know, intimately, a number of disabled people, and that the one thing every single one of them has in common is a passionate wish that they were NOT disabled, that they could be ‘normal’, because have to dealing with their own physical or mental disabilities, totally aside from ‘social prejudice’, makes their lives harder.  Disability is "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual", and makes it harder to DO things.

     

    Disabilities are inconvenient and sometimes painful and make ordinary life tougher than it needs to be, even with accommodations, and interfere with relationships with other people and with doing things that people want to do.  This isn’t because disabled people are ‘ableist’ or because they are prejudiced against themselves – it is because not being able to walk or run or pick up things or read or write or speak clearly or talk to someone without offending or be sure they are perceiving reality accurately GETS IN THEIR WAY.

     

    My sister had several operations when she was a child on her leg and her arm and her hand, and had to endure a great deal of physical therapy, but my parents did not do those operations because ‘society doesn’t want to deal with people with disabilities’ but because they wanted HER to have the use of her own body to accomplish what SHE wanted to accomplish.

     

    At this point, I’m beginning to think that if someone came up with a cheap total cure for paraplegia tomorrow, you would argue that paralyzed people who want to have the operation are doing so because of "the pernicious influence of social prejudice".

  • cat

    Your definition of disability is fucked up to begin with.  Disability is the social stigma applied to impairment.  For example, everyone who wears glasses has impaired vision, but the social stigma for using glasses does not even come close to the social stigma for using a wheelchair.  What gets classified as disability and what gets considered ‘normal’ human diversity is all about social stigma and social access.

     

    "the one thing every single one of them has in common is a passionate wish that they were NOT disabled, that they could be ‘normal’"  I think it is terribly sad that these people hate themselves, just as I think it is terribly said when I find fellow queer people who express a vehement desire to be ‘normal’ (i.e. straight). "able to walk or run" Able to marry. "or pick up things" not be fired for being queer.  "write" Adopt children.  "speak clearly or talk to someone without offending" Speak about their partner in public without risk of violence.  Maybe you could consider that these things are often only nessecary or valued because we already consider people with disabilities to be the other and to be lesser. "they wanted HER to have the use of her own body to accomplish what SHE wanted to accomplish"  Why the fuck are we setting up barriers to the accomplishments of parapalegics, that’s the better question.   I wish that certain parts of my campus were accessible to those who can’t use stairs, not because I think I’m fucked up and should be able to do the ‘normal’ activity of stair use, but because I think that those of us who can’t use stairs deserve full and equal access and full and equal respect.

     

     

     BTW, "I have a disabled friend" does not erase your priviledge or ablism anymore than saying ‘I have a black friend’ or ‘I have a gay friend’ erases the priviledge and bias in those cases.  I am a person with disabilities, ME and so is Progo and the idea that you are a better judge of the experiences of those with disabilities than us who actually live it is messed up.

     

    "At this point, I’m beginning to think that if someone came up with a cheap total cure for paraplegia tomorrow, you would argue that paralyzed people who want to have the operation are doing so because of "the pernicious influence of social prejudice". "  I suspect most cases (though not all) would be (particularly this is not a condition close related to death and physical pain, which provide a different sort of individual weighing).  We are not inferior and do not need ‘cures’ enforced upon us.  Our lives do not need cured and the issue of whether a specific impairment should be treated in a specific way is a choice for the individual and for the community.  If an individual feels that a change is what is best for themselves, they can make that decision for themselves.  The problem is that people like you think that we have some sort of obligation to be ‘cured’ or denied accessability.  Your assumption that ‘fixing’ us would be obviously better is disgustingly ablist.  And yes, I do know people who have refused ‘cures’ for their impairments and this is actually not uncommon when it comes to cochlear implants.  I do live with an impairment that causes chronic pain and I do live with a ‘neural development disorder’ which causes social problems and I do live with a potentially fatal condition and I do not think my life is of less value than an able bodied person’s. 

  • crowepps

    Your definition of disability is fucked up to begin with.

    That’s the definition the Federal government uses.

     Disability is the social stigma applied to impairment. 

    No, that’s prejudice arising out of ignorance.

    For example, everyone who wears glasses has impaired vision, but the social stigma for using glasses does not even come close to the social stigma for using a wheelchair.

    And yet both the person who wears glasses and the person who is in the wheelchair, totally aside from the social stigma, would very likely be glad not to have to use them because they are INCONVENIENT.  If they had an operation that would reliably fix my sight, I’d have it in a second.

    BTW, "I have a disabled friend" does not erase your priviledge or ablism anymore than saying ‘I have a black friend’ or ‘I have a gay friend’ erases the priviledge and bias in those cases.  I am a person with disabilities, ME and so is Progo and the idea that you are a better judge of the experiences of those with disabilities than us who actually live it is messed up.

    And yet, particularly according to Progo’s definition I have several long-standing and inconvenient ‘disabilities’ myself, actually ones that sound a lot like your own.  I just don’t drag them into the conversation repetitively as ‘proof’ that everyone who is disabled agrees with me and everyone who doesn’t is prejudiced and persecuting me.

    We are not inferior and do not need ‘cures’ enforced upon us.  Our lives do not need cured and the issue of whether a specific impairment should be treated in a specific way is a choice for the individual and for the community.  If an individual feels that a change is what is best for themselves, they can make that decision for themselves.

    Whoever said they shouldn’t?  If your view is representative of the entire ‘disabled community’, however, I guess they ought to just shut down every one of the tremendous efforts to find unwanted ‘cures’.

    The problem is that people like you think that we have some sort of obligation to be ‘cured’ or denied accessability.

    I really cannot see anything in any of my posts that even begins to hint that I think anybody has any obligation to be cured, or that anybody should be denied accessability.  Having spent quite a bit of time pushing a wheelchair myself, I am very aware of the ubiquity of architectural barriers and absolutely a supporter of open and equal accessibility for everyone.

     

    It seems to me like the difference between our points of view is that you think people are defined by their disabilities and I don’t.

    Your assumption that ‘fixing’ us would be obviously better is disgustingly ablist.

    Again, this is not what I said.  What I said is that the people with disabilities that I know have expressed that THEY would like to be ‘fixed’ because THEY find their disabilities inconvenient and limiting.  They would like to be ABLE to do what they want but I really don’t think that makes them ‘ableist’ as in prejudiced against themselves.

  • progo35

    WAY TO GO, CAT!!! It is so nice to interact with one of the many pro choice people in the disability rights movement who recognizes ableism for what it is. If only the pro choice movement acknowledged the contributions and perspectives of people like you. I really feel that pro choice and pro life people concerned with these issues can work together to make the world a better place for everyone.

     

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

  • progo35

     I went through a phase during which I wanted to be a nondisabled person. Interestingly, it occurred during middle school, when most people are seeking to conform and be like everyone else so as to fit in more easily. Even though I have always been an independent person, I still wished that I didn’t have my disability. I had somehow abrogated my earlier perspective that what was wrong was how the world responded to me, not me or the way my body functioned. By my sophomore year of high school, however, I realized that society was inherently ableist, and that by wishing I was different, I was aquiescing to it. I’m not surprised that Crowepps’ aquaintences feel the way they do, but I still feel that this perspective is borne out of the barriers that are placed in the way of disabled people. So, even disabled people can espouse ableist ideas because that’s the environment in which we live. Unfortunately, the disability rights movement is far less visible than other movements, which helps breed self hatred among disabled people because that’s all they see through the eyes of a nondisabled society. And, Cat, I did want to mention that it was crowepps who suggested that aborting a down syndrome fetus would save it from becoming a child who would suffer because of social prejudice. That’s the kind of ableism I was thinking about when I used that example earlier in one of my posts. I think such perspectives harm women who find that they are carrying a fetus with down syndrome because they might buy into that perspective and feel that abortion is the only good option if they don’t want their child to "suffer."

     

     

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

  • progo35

    Anyone who has read Carson McCuther’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter may be familiar with the scene in which a black rights activist goes to a church service and the black pastor tells his flock that if they are good, God will reward them by making them white in Heaven. In my opinion, those who wish that they were nondisabled reflect this same self-loathing. In fact, while I don’t presume to know what will happen when we get to heaven, I have changed my previous belief that when I get there I won’t be disabled. I think that when I get there, I will still be disabled but I will be accepted, because our society tells us that disability is bad, but God makes people with all kinds of differences and I think he looks at disabilities as one of them. I believe that in heaven, others there will share that perspective. If only that could be true for those on earth.

     

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

  • crowepps

    And, Cat, I did want to mention that it was crowepps who suggested that aborting a down syndrome fetus would save it from becoming a child who would suffer because of social prejudice. That’s the kind of ableism I was thinking about when I used that example earlier in one of my posts. I think such perspectives harm women who find that they are carrying a fetus with down syndrome because they might buy into that perspective and feel that abortion is the only good option if they don’t want their child to "suffer."

    Actually, as I recollect, what I said was that YOUR constant moaning about poor you and your insistence that being disabled was a constant source of discrimination against you and that you have to fight daily against the ableists who persecute you was going to give women the impression their child would suffer.

     

    At this point, I really do think the series of posts from the two of you about how miserable your lives are and how nobody likes you and everybody hates you and somebody else should do something to make life FAIR would be pretty staggering to a woman trying to convince herself her child could have a satisfying life.

  • progo35

    Crowepps,

    I don’t need to remember  because I went back and found your statements:

    In response to a comment I made on another post about the Tebow ad alleging that certain groups may be being, as I put it, "wiped out" by abortion, you wrote:

     

    "This is alarming — who?  Who is being "totally wiped out by abortion"?

     

    It can’t be Black people, their fertility rate is still 30% higher than that of Caucasians even after abortion.

     

    It can’t be people with Down’s Syndrome — aborting even 90% of the present group won’t change the number caused by the recurring DNA recombinant problem that  occurs statistically in a certain percentage of pregnancies.  It does seem a little cold to be scornful towards the women who abort those pregnancies when the societyal prejudice against DS is effected by marginalizing the lives of DS individuals.  Abortion may be the only way the women can protect that child from society’s prejudice."

    I wrote:

    "

    "Abortion may be the only way the women can protect that child from society’s prejudice."

    Digusting. It’s the old "take the kid off the playground" trick-ie, Mothers: don’t fight against society’s prejudice-accede to it by aborting your down syndrome children so that they world’s prejudices are mollified!"

    PS. Since you, crowepps are prejudiced against the handicapped, as evidenced by your comments regarding disabled people and adoption, I’m not surprised."

    Perhaps I should have been less snarky, but I stand by my comments regarding your assertion about abortion and down syndrome individuals.  

     

    You then wrote:

    "It doesn’t seem to me that it would be too pleasure for the child, being the club with which his mother "fights against society’s prejudice".  Seems downright painful, in fact.

     

    Had to laugh at your description of me as "prejudiced against the handicapped".  As I recall our prior discussion, to be very un-politically correct blunt, what I said was "crazy people shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children" and "dying people shouldn’t be allowed to adopt children".   I still don’t understand why you think either one is a good idea. "

    I wrote:

    "Crowepps-that’s NOT what you said. You said that anyone with any history of mental illness whatsoever shouldn’t be allowed to adopt. Moreover, perhaps you are too prejudiced to understand that disabled people inherently fight against society’s prejudice whether their parents are interested in doing so or not. Moreover, disabled people have the same right to confront any barrier that society places in their way that women and other minorities do. Aborting disabled people to "protect" them is a disgusting way to accede to society’s desire that disabled people not exist. I fight against ableist prejudice every day-FOR ME, not my parents, and no one else. Your assertions show that you have bought society’s prejudice against the handicapped, hook, line and sinker. I feel sorry for you."

    You wrote,

     

    "Speaking from personal experience, people with mental illnesses don’t make optimum parents and sometimes make disastrous ones.  Given a limited number of children available and a choice between someone who has all the qualities to be an optimum parent and someone who more than likely doesn’t, you bet I’d pick the healthier person.  Who wouldn’t?  The purpose is to give the adopted child the best possible home, not to sacrifice the child to provide an illusion of normality for an adult who wants the illusion of being ‘normal’ or provide a companion for someone who is lonely.

    Aborting disabled people to "protect" them is a disgusting way to accede to society’s desire that disabled people not exist.

    It may be disgusting in your eyes, but in order to stop it, society is going to have to first stop marginalizing the disabled and the mentally ill.

    I fight against ableist prejudice every day-FOR ME, not my parents, and no one else.

    And your anger and bitterness and feelings of being persecuted certainly aren’t doing much to convince anybody that being disabled isn’t a horrible, life-destroying disaster.  The louder you scream about the horrors of ‘ableism’ and how society wishes disabled people didn’t exist, the more women are convinced their children would suffer terribly if they allowed them to be born and it would be more merciful to abort them.  After all, what would it be like for a child with a really severe handicap if Progo has is a learning disability and she is filled with rage and disgust at the terrible way society treats her?

    Your assertions show that you have bought society’s prejudice against the handicapped, hook, line and sinker. I feel sorry for you. 

    And I feel bad for you, since your insistence in seeing yourself as a persecuted victim seems to be consuming your life to little purpose.  My daughter has pretty severe dyslexia, but instead of whining about how everybody is prejudiced against her, she’s working full-time, raising two kids and writing a book.  She doesn’t expect anybody to give her special consideration because of her disability, and she doesn’t let it get in her way either.  If people are jerks about it, she figures they’re jerks."

    I wrote,

    "’It may be disgusting in your eyes, but in order to stop it, society is going to have to first stop marginalizing the disabled and the mentally ill.’

    Marginalization is exactly what you did in the previous paragraph by insisting that anyone with any kind of mental illness is automatically a poor parent.

     

    ‘After all, what would it be like for a child with a really severe handicap if Progo has is a learning disability and she is filled with rage and disgust at the terrible way society treats her?’

     

    Fine, Crowepps, discrimination against the handicapped does fill me with rage and disgust. So does child molestation and world hunger. Should I stop "whining" about those issues, too, because some women might have abortions in response to their fear of such injustices?
    As for being productive, I think I’ve mentioned that I graduated cum laude from school and am now pursuing a degree in musicology, a field that will eventually entail work in higher education/academia. Yes, Crowepps, I’m just frittering my life away, feeling bitter. :) "

     

    You wrote,

     

    Marginalization is exactly what you did in the previous paragraph by insisting that anyone with any kind of mental illness is automatically a poor parent.

    I know lots of people who had or have mental illnesses who are great parents to their own children.  What we’re talking about, however, is how to choose a home for a child available for adoption, in a venue where there are lots of different homes available to that child.

     

    I’m not sure how up you are on the requirements to qualify as an adoptive parent, but besides being in ‘good health’ you also must be between 21 and 39, have a steady job, have a ‘nice’ home, a stable marriage, etc., and a bundle of cash to pay all the fees.  At some agencies, whether you go to church is even a factor.  Does that mean that they are discriminating against younger and older people, the self-employed, those who live in apartments, the unmarried and atheists?  People in all of those groups may be great parents.  What the adoption agency is trying to do is select the best possible home to meet the CHILD’S needs based on factors that have been shown to provide an optimum home.  6.5% of adoptions fail, to the great detriment of the children involved.  Why risk the child?  Why set the parent up to fail?

    Two decades of research have unequivocally indicated that children who have a parent with mental illness are at significantly greater risk for multiple psychosocial problems (Beardslee et al., 1996a; Canino, Bird, Rubio-Stipec, Bravo & Algeria, 1990; Oyserman, Mowbray, Meares & Firminger, 2000). Studies have noted rates of child psychiatric diagnosis among offspring ranging from approximately 30% to 50% (Canino et al.; Oyserman et al.), as compared to an estimated rate of 20% among the general child population (Friedman, Katz-Leavy, Manderscheid, & Sondheimer, 1996). These same children are more likely to show developmental delays, lower academic competence, and difficulty with social relationships (Barocas, Seifer, & Sameroff, 1985; Oyserman et al.; Sameroff & Seifer, 1983; Weintraub & Neal, 1984). Despite these risks, many children of parents with mental illness are resilient and appear to "avoid" significant problems (Beardslee & Poderofsky, 1988).

    http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/KEN-01-0109/ch4.asp

     

    A Deakin University psychologist is shocked the State Government’s Suicide Prevention Taskforce has ignored the high risk of suicide by children of mentally ill parents.

    … 

    She said the taskforce failed to recognise children of mentally ill parents as a high risk group for suicide despite research showing this group was eight times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.

    Ms Holgate said the children of mentally ill parents often had to take on adult responsibilities.

    She said this isolated children from their peers and affected their ability to develop relationships in adult life.

    "The children have to take on responsibilities beyond their years, such as cooking and looking after younger siblings. Professionals encourage children to take on these responsibilities and it places an enormous burden on them," she said.

    "They tend to have lower self-esteem as adults, don’t know how to have fun and are more prone to anxiety and depression."

    http://home.vicnet.net.au/~nnaami/ignore.htm

     

     

    So, crowepps, I didn’t misquote you:there it is in black and white: you did say that abortion saves down syndrome individuals from social prejudice, and, you also acknowledged the pernicious influence of social prejudice on those decisions because such acknowledgement suited your case at the time. Now that Cat and I have made essentially the same argument except that we argue that women aren’t being given sufficient resources if they wish to keep their fetus with a diagnosed disability, you deny the influence of social prejudice on disabled people and assert that disabled people only wish they weren’t disabled because of the disability itself, and not social prejudice. BTW, I also find it fascinating that when it comes to other situations we’ve discussed, the foster care system is practically overflowing with children who need to be adopted, but when it comes to disabled people, there are barely enough children to feed the massive influx of potential adopters. Yes, Crowepps, there is ableism in many of your arguments, and disability advocates reading your writings can see that.

     

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

  • crowepps

    It must have taken you a while to resurrect all that.  Those are my opinions indeed, although I should clarify one section.  You had claimed genocide based on women aborting DS individuals and claimed they were ‘prejudiced’ against them.

     

    In order to make the intent of my first reply clear I should have said:

    "It does seem a little cold to be scornful towards the women who abort those pregnancies when the societal prejudice against DS is effected by marginalizing the lives of DS individuals.  Abortion may be the only way the woman [herself feels she] can protect that child from society’s prejudice."

     

    I don’t deny the effect of social prejudice on the disabled at all.  It is pernicious and hurtful and has really negative impacts not only on the disabled but on their families.  I do deny your claims that every single person who isn’t disabled hates disabled people, however, because I have not found that to be true.

     

    I think the convoluted concept behind ‘ableism’ is ridiculous – being able to do the things one wants to do IS better than not being able to do them and that common sense conclusion is an entirely different thing altogether than being prejudiced against the disabled because they need accomodations to do the things they want to do.

  • progo35

    Here is an excellent article by a woman involved with FWD, or, Feminists with Disabilities, on the L and O episode, “Dignity,” reproductive choices, and ableism in the medical community/our society. She mentions RH Reality Check as well.

    http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/29/law-order-dignity-worth-and-the-medical-model-of-disability/

    And, since the piece we’re all commenting on is about the possibility or non possibility that abortion is harming the African American community, I thought it would be good to include an op ed by Alveda King, MLK’s niece, which was published in the Washington Times. She is someone who concurs with the position that abortion has become a form of genocide against the black race.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jul/20/the-abortionists-eye-is-on-us/"Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    I didn’t notice this when I posted it, but cat and I actually posted the same article. I believe this indicates a real continuity among disabled/disability allied feminists regarding prenatal screening and prejudice in our society.

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

  • progo35

    "At this point, I really do think the series of posts from the two of you about how miserable your lives are and how nobody likes you and everybody hates you and somebody else should do something to make life FAIR would be pretty staggering to a woman trying to convince herself her child could have a satisfying life."

     

    Funny, Crowepps, I don’t remember saying that my life is miserable, or that nobody likes me and that everyone hates me. Could you please point out where and when I said that? Actually, you can’t, because I never did. You are assuming that since I experience discrimination I either a) really have no friends, family or allies who support me or b) think that I have no friends, family or allies to support me, neither of which are true.

     

    Are you of the opinion that "complaining" or advocating against injustice means that the person doing the complaining/advocating feels that they have a miserable life? I guess all activists must think that then-Amanda Marcott, for instance, must really think that her life is terrible, because she’s always saying how prejudiced society is against women. Gay rights activists must also think that they would have been better off not being born, because they keep "complaining" about homophobia. Oh, and MLK must have DEFINIELY thought that that his life sucked. After all, he wrote all those speeches decrying racism and was assassinated for it.

     

    Moreover, your comment that Cat and I want "someone else" to do something about the bigotry that we experience is indicative of the assumption that we are just sitting on our butts, complaining on this blog. I do many things to help stop prejudice against handicapped people, including working with foster children with special needs as an educational advocate, being involved in the National Youth Leadership Network, and running my own website. Not to mention the fact that simply overcoming the various obstacles I face by at school by advocating for myself may make it easier for other people who come after me, because someone else will have fought some of the civil rights battles pertaining to success in higher education. I’m sure that Cat has faced many of these boundaries as well and has positively impacted those around her by remaining proud of who she is.

     

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

  • crowepps

    "acknowledge the pernicious influence of social prejudice on all aspects of a disabled person’s life, including reproductive decisions."

     

    "what was wrong was how the world responded to me, not me or the way my body functioned."

     

    "Society manifests an extreme hatred of the handicapped that influences women’s decisions in these matters. This hatred must be rectified"

     

    "Society manifests an extreme hatred of the handicapped" certainly might lead me to believe that my potential baby wouldn’t have a very good life and certainly not if the only way for him/her to have a decent life was to change the attitude of the entire world and cure the "pernicious prejudice" apparently shared by all the nondisabled.

     

    It seems to me that women making these decisions would be much more likely to continue their pregnancies if they instead saw testimonials about how disabled people have happy, productive lives, succeeding and getting along with other people, which may be true in your life, but is something you rarely mention here.

     

    I never said that disability rights advocates should shut up.  They do need to ensure that all public spaces are useable by all members of the public.  The advocates in Alaska who point out that fairness requires access, and that an increased customer base is an asset to the businesses involved, are having success getting problems remedied.  Those who accuse inaccessible businesses of prejudice and discrimination tend to increase hostility rather than decrease it because the truth is, those business owners never thought about the disabled at all one way or the other.  If their first contact is someone who screams about ‘ableism’ and threatens to sue them, it doesn’t seem to me to be likely to decrease prejudice.

     

    If you’d rather be Stokely Carmichael than M.L. King, that’s entirely your decision, but in my opinion M.L. King was more effective in the long run.

  • crowepps

    Legislator: Disabled kids are God’s punishment

     

    RICHMOND — State Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas says disabled children are God’s punishment to women who have aborted their first pregnancy.

     

    He made that statement Thursday at a press conference to oppose state funding for Planned Parenthood.

     

    "The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children," said Marshall, a Republican.

     

    "In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest." http://www.newsleader.com/article/20100222/NEWS01/2220318

     

    Personally, as a Christian, I find the idea that handicapped children are God’s ‘vengence’ on their parents pretty vile myself, and that a really nasty characterization of a loving God, but then I’m sure Rep. Marshall is far more immersed in fundamentalist theology than I am.

     

    I wonder what Rep. Marshall’s mother did wrong, for God to inflict HIM on her?

  • progo35

    You know, at first I was offended when you compared me to the racist, anti Semetic Stokely Carmichael, but then I remembered that you dismiss the entire concept of ableism out of hand, so of course you see anyone who repeatedly complains about it as bitter and hateful. So, I’ve decided to ignore that comment at least insofar as it having any relevance to the conversation at hand.

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

  • crowepps

    Considering that you consistently express anger based on your assumption that the vast majority of those who aren’t disabled must be ignorant bigots who hate disabled people, I find it interesting that you dislike being compared to the guy who was filled with rage because he thought most everybody who was White was an ignorant bigot who hated Black people.

     

    The funny thing about stereotyping and bigotry is that anybody who divides the world into two categories, elevates one to special victim status and denigrates the other as the oppressor, is a bigot using stereotyping. "Society hates the disabled" is as much of a bigoted statement as "all men oppress women" or "the disabled contribute nothing" or any other stereotype, statements with which I will make it clear I don’t agree.

     

    Black and white statements do not describe the real world. Because reality is not black and white, simplistic descriptions of problems usually aren’t accurate. People do not divide cleanly into the ‘good’ group and the ‘bad’ group. Some disabled people are jerks, and people do not dislike them because they are disabled but on the equal opportunity basis that jerks are tiresome and irritating.

  • progo35

    "Considering that you consistently express anger based on your assumption that the vast majority of those who aren’t disabled must be ignorant bigots who hate disabled people, I find it interesting that you dislike being compared to the guy who was filled with rage because he thought most everybody who was White was an ignorant bigot who hated Black people."

     

    Crowepps-No where in my writings have I said that everyone who isn’t handicapped are ignorant bigots who hate disabled people. For you to take that from what I’ve written indicates that you think that all nondisabled people think the same way about disability. Those who have had experience in this area or even those who simply have the good sense to apply what they’ve learned from other civil rights movements to the disability rights struggle are changing their asssumptions and becoming more open as they gain knowledge, just as society is slowly accepting gay unions and other rights.What I’ve been saying is that we live in an ableist culture/society that molds good people’s opinions and reactions in negative ways.

     

    Like I’ve said, I went through a period where I didn’t want to be disabled, but I grew out of it. I also went through a faze when I looked down on some of my classmates who had learning disabilities because I felt that they did not work hard enough and that they helped bring society’s condemnation on themselves. It was when I became older and recognized the pervasive influence of prejudice on people’s conception of themselves and their capacities that I dumped these assumptions. Does that make me an "ignorant" "hateful" "bigot"? NO! But, I did imbibe some ableist assumptions from my surrounding culture that I adopted as truth. I feel that this is the general problem driving ableism in our society.

     

    To me, there is a difference between someone who is a certified "bigot" and someone who has adopted bigoted or ignorant views from his or her surrounding culture. People only know as much as their world allows them to. Case in point: In reading many of the stories on the "A Heartbreaking Choice" website and another website about women who chose to carry such pregnancies to term, "Be Not Afraid," I felt that the women involved were negatively influenced by their own conceptions of disability and by those held by the doctors who were supposed to help them. For instance, women who carried their pregnancies to term generally had the same initial reaction of fear and grief as those who chose to terminate. This indicates that they harbored ableist prejudice imbibed from our culture. In the cases of women who terminated, I felt that they terminated out of love for their children but that these decisions were based on ableist assumptions about people with disabilities, also imbibed from the surrounding culture of doctors, family members, and others who told them that they should abort without providing any other options.

     

    The point is that we exist in an ableist society that shapes those assumptions, thus, people will act in ableist ways even if they are good people.
    There are a few things that, in my mind, distinguish a bigot from someone who has imbibed bigoted assumptions. A person who has imbibed certain assumptions doesn’t intend to be bigoted and has simply not had the experience to know that what he or she is being told about the issue at hand is an incomplete picture of the situation. Thus, they are not acting out of hatred, but out of their knowledge that is limited by the surrounding culture.

     

    A bigot, on the other hand, is someone who specifically targets the handicapped for abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, etc because they believe that disabled (or gay, or african american, etc)are inherently inferior or have inferior lives. Peter Singer would be an example of such a person. It may even be reasonable to argue that someone like Clint Eastwood, who attempted to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act in the 1990s and then made an extremely prejudiced and inaccurate portrayal of parapalegia and mental retardation in Million Dollar Baby.

    A doctor who reccommends termination without any other options and then refuses to provide treatment to a woman who chooses to continue her pregnancy is another exanmple of someone I would consider a bigot.
    So, there is a difference. The way you make it sound, MLK just went around saying that everything was fine and sang Kum bay Ya and SC was the only one talking about racism. MLK talked about the hatred in his society and it’s impact on his children and the children of those who were perpetuating the bigotry, which is basically the same thing that Cat and I have done here. I would also remind you that SC said that Hitler was a great guy and advocated physical violence to achieve his ends, whereas Cat and I have used and advocated peaceful resistence to the ableism in our society.

     

    P.S As to what this particular guy said, yes, that’s terrible, but no different from what some liberal broadcaster on BBC did when he said that Sarah Palin’s son, Trig, is "Proof that God hates her," and the guy on the Daily Kos who wrote that SP was trying to increase the number of "retarded" people in our population. Oh, and let’s not forget Clinton’s Surgeon General Jocelyn Elder’s 1996 defense of abortion on the grounds that,""The number of Down’s Syndrome infants in Washington state in 1976 was 64 percent lower than it would have been without legal abortion." You seem to have an unreasonable focus on conservative leaning people who have said ableist things, as if you think I’m unaware of that or are trying to justify some of the left’s ableism.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • crowepps

    "No where in my writings have I said that everyone who isn’t handicapped are ignorant bigots who hate disabled people."

    Well, that was certainly the meaning that seems to underlie:

     "Society manifests an extreme hatred of the handicapped that influences women’s decisions in these matters."

    It’s interesting that you make a distinction between ‘people’ and ‘society’.  It’s always been my understanding that ‘society’ is the collective opinion of ‘people’.

    "For you to take that from what I’ve written indicates that you think that all nondisabled people think the same way about disability."

    Well, no, I don’t think that, because I don’t include everybody in one undifferentiated lump.  You, on the other hand, do indeed seem to do that with your pronouncements about ‘an ableist society’.

     

    I think we have a society that focuses on PRODUCT – anyone who is uneducated, poor, physically or mentally disabled, young, old, eccentric, underemployed, gay, anyone who does not voluntarily assume the standard role which the elite finds USEFUL in sustaining their privileged lifestyle, is disregarded and marginalized.

     

    I don’t think ‘society manifests an extreme hatred of the handicapped’ but rather that our economy is structured in such a way that there is no tolerance for anyone whatsoever who is perceived to require assistance for any reason, because the only ‘value’ that is important to the economy is being a producer/consumer from whose work the elite can skim the cream.

  • cat

    “I don’t think ‘society manifests an extreme hatred of the handicapped’ but rather that our economy is structured in such a way that there is no tolerance for anyone whatsoever who is perceived to require assistance for any reason, because the only ‘value’ that is important to the economy is being a producer/consumer from whose work the elite can skim the cream. ”  Contradict yourself much?  If a society has absolutely no tolerence for you, sees you as valueless, disregards and marginilizes you, then it is perfectly legitimate to say that society hates you.  If that’s not hate, nothing is, especially when you consider how people treat those they view in such a way.

     

    Oh, and here’s Meriam-Webster’s relevant definition of ‘society’: : “an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another b : a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests”.  The opinion of society is a prevailing social attitude, a attitude acted out by the majority of a population, not nessecarily every individual. 

  • cat

    @Progo, Of course there is ablism across the political spectrum, but you seem to be leaving out that there is ablism across the abortion rights position spectrum. ” For instance, women who carried their pregnancies to term generally had the same initial reaction of fear and grief as those who chose to terminate.”  Yes, and only a few decide to do work from there in regards to their ablism.  The discourse that comes from the anti-abortion groups tends to talk about having a child with disabilities as a ‘sacrifice’ and that they did not abort because they already had a strong anti-abortion opinion, not because they thought that it was just as good to end up with a child with disabilities.  When people like Sarah Palin uses her child as a political tool in attacking her opponents or abortion rights but is perfectly okay with well publicized websites praying for God to ‘cure’ him and with her political allies using language just as bad, that’s not indicitive of actually caring about the rights of people with disabilities, it is using protectivism as an excuse to attack.  The Klan used to routinely use the idea of ‘protecting the virtue of white women’ as an excuse to kill black people, that didn’t make them a woman positive organization (and, if you know much about the Klan, they are quite the opposite), it made them willing to use those they saw as objects of pity and concern as a political tool.  Thinking yourself a martyr for birthing an ‘inferior’ child because you think God hates abortion and you had no choice is in no way indicitive of love of people with disabilites, nor are the vast majority of anti-abortion groups prodisability rights.

     

    Btw, I would define internalizing bias as a form of bigotry.  When I was in middle school, I harbored some racist ideas about black people being more violent, which I internalized from the culture around me.  I don’t pretend now that I was not holding racist ideas, or, insofar as those few beliefs were concerned, being a racist.  I have realized my mistake and put great effort into eradicating racist beliefs that I accepted.  So yes, these ablist ideas are bigotry, and when people espouse these ideas, they are being bigots.  Not every person who has ablist beliefs goes to the extreme of believing in the acceptability of forced sterilization and gas chamber showers, but those ideas are still bigoted ones.  The issue of whether a person is an ablist (is that even used as a noun?) or a racist is a more complex question than whether or not they are acting and espousing a specific biased notion.  I was far less racially biased than my classmates and most of my teachers, and I opposed police violence, so the question of whether I was a racist is pretty complicated, especially considering my staunch advocacy of Native American rights.  So, the question of whether a person with ablist notions about their pregnancy is ablist in all respects can be more complex than the question of whether or not that idea is bigotry.  I have come to think of bigotry as more of a spectrum, so, as a kid, I might have been lower than average on the bigotry scale, but I was not a zero.  The same holds for these women who think that disabled children are worth less.

  • cat

    I wanted to point out that I think that there is a big ethical difference between seeing a having a disabled child as inferior and seeing having a disabled child as untenable due to a financial or social situation.  For example, Angie the Antitheist who has been discussing her abortion online, has cited the fact that having another child (who would likely be disabled and have high care needs) would interfear with her ability to parent her existing disabled child because of limited personal and social resources as one of her reasons for deciding that only one child was best (her health and personal wishes were also important factors).  Here, I do not see evidence that Angie thought that a disabled child would be worse, in fact she does not indicate that she would continue the pregnancy if there was a guarantee the child would be abled, only that she had to consider that issues with caretaking could interfear with her ability to parent her existing child well. 

     I certainly don’t think that all women who abort fetuses that would become children with disabilites do so out of abism (though I believe such a bias does exist in many cases), only that the fact that it does play a role in some of their decisions does not give reason to deny them abortion rights. Setting up a panel to evalute that purity of women’s motivations for excersing control over her body is, in my opinion, ethically unfeasible. 

    For people who decide to abort solely because they are unable to adequately care for the potential child, due to financial, social, or other constraints (most of which are set up by an ablist, classist society), forcing her to continue the pregnancy when she knows that she cannot care for her child and that the foster system will not likely do a decent job either is no solution and seems downright cruel. 

    So, my conclusion is that either way, the answer is to combat prejudice and give more resources, both to pregnant people recieving prenatal fetal diagnosis and parents of existing people with disabilities.  The choices of women, queer people, people with disabilities, poor people, people of color, etc. are limited within a hierarchial, biased society, but we need to respect their right to make what decisions are best for them within that framework at the same time as we try to widen the options they have.  And, to you ablist haters, you aren’t helping on that front either by ignoring the realities of ablism in our society.

  • cat

    Because I know some folks will misunderstand, let me clarify that thinking the life of a person with disabilities is ‘worse than death’, ‘nessecarily worse than normal people’, or ‘a terrible tragedy’, fits in the bias category.  ‘I can barely afford to raise any child as it is, trying to afford wheelchairs and communication aids is impossible for me and I do not have the support’ falls under the category of ablist society limiting available choices.  ‘A life with downsyndrome is a less full life’ is bias, whereas ‘my child would need someone who could give extra one on one attention and who would be able to advocate for his/her needs in school, which is something my resources do not allow me to do’ is an issue with ability to parent, due to either personal or social reasons.  I grew up in a very poor area and I now attend an expenisive private college around mostly upperclass white students, and I can say that what I have seen is that upperclass whites actually are more likely to desire a termination based on disability than lower class whites, despite the fact that resources are a significantly greater concern for the latter.  Bias is a huge player here.

  • progo35

    Cat-

    Re upper class abortions: From reading stories about these decisions, it often seems that the woman involved cannot live with the idea of having an “imperfect” child. For instance, many stories I read contained thinking like, “My dreams for a perfect child who would share my his father’s enthusiasm for art or my enthusiasm for sports was shattered.” Such people often acknowledged that disabled people could be happy, but having a disabled child is not what they wanted. Thus, whereas they would have carried the pregnancy to term if the fetus hadn’t been disabled, they decided to terminate to avoid giving birth to a child who would not embody their dreams. Perhaps the expectation of perfection is greater in people who have a greater ability to fulfill their other desires, whereas having less ability to fulfill one’s general desires makes one more ammenable to having an “imperfect” child.

  • progo35

    Cat-

    Re upper class abortions: From reading stories about these decisions, it often seems that the woman involved cannot live with the idea of having an “imperfect” child. For instance, many stories I read contained thinking like, “My dreams for a perfect child who would share my his father’s enthusiasm for art or my enthusiasm for sports was shattered.” Such people often acknowledged that disabled people could be happy, but having a disabled child is not what they wanted. Thus, whereas they would have carried the pregnancy to term if the fetus hadn’t been disabled, they decided to terminate to avoid giving birth to a child who would not embody their dreams. Perhaps the expectation of perfection is greater in people who have a greater ability to fulfill their other desires, whereas having less ability to fulfill one’s general desires makes one more ammenable to having an “imperfect” child.

  • progo35

    I think you draw good distinctions between llimitations placed on women and families through our ableist society and ableism that the woman and her family/doctors, etc. may have internalized. For instance, some stories I read indicated that women were told that down syndrome people were automatically ineligible for heart transplants and so they decided to terminate when this is actually not necessarily true, although some hospitals and transplant committees express their prejudice in this way. This is something that pro choice and pro life people can both work to change.

  • progo35

    I really don’t know how my post about upper class women and disability related terminations got posted four times. Wasn’t my idea!

  • crowepps

    I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re saying here.  Is it true that hospitals and transplant committees turn down Downs Syndrome infants for heart transplants?  What proportion of them do this?  If a lot of hospitals and transplant committees do turn down DS infants for heart transplants, then aren’t the genetic counselors/doctors telling the women the truth, that it will be difficult for them to obtain an operation that would enable their fetus to survive very long after birth?

  • crowepps

    Believe you me, people who see their children as extensions of themselves are equally upset by any other interference in their fantasies.  Those who ‘ordered’ an artistic child are outraged if their healthy child instead focuses on sports and those who ‘expected’ an athlete sneer at their healthy child who is academic.

     

    Children who aren’t pretty enough, too pretty, talented enough, too talented, smart enough, too smart, popular enough, too popular are given to understand that they aren’t at all what the parents had in mind.  Quite a few parents expel from their home and sever all connection with their gay children.  Parents cold shoulder adult children who differ with them about religion, culture, childbearing, career, endless ‘Just Like Me’ nonsense that provides lots and lots and LOTS of ways for their children to be judged ‘imperfect’.

  • crowepps

    Well, no, actually that’s not ‘hate’, because in order to hate somebody you have to actually consider them important enough to put that much emotion into the situation. It seems to me that when a question about access for the disabled comes up, the response of the power brokers is generally, “Who? Why would this cause a problem for them? Don’t they all just stay home most of the time? Why should we have to spend extra money just for them?”

     

    Certainly the adventure of getting decent wheelchair seating in the publicly funded Anchorage Performing Arts Center back in ’93 was instructive. ONLY after someone sued them did they come up with a plan involving entry through side doors and seating in the back row that required a lot of effort for the disabled and was in my opinion totally inadequate. This was not because they ‘hated’ the disabled but because none of the highly paid professionals involved in designing and building the place thought about the disabled for even a moment.

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1828&dat=19930304&id=TTEoAAAAIBAJ&sjid=hcAEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4469,830464

  • progo35

    Croweeps…we are talking here about eugenics and reproductive choice. Not what parents do to their born children, this issue being particularly different because there are currently no prenatal tests for prettiness, intelligence, or sexual orientation, so this knowledge does not figure into the parents’ reproductive decisions.

  • progo35

    Crowepps-

    Having read up on the subject, I’m still unsure. A Heartbreaking Choice website has a section on down syndrome in which it alleges that such children are not elligible for heart transplants and some of the stories include women being told that their down syndrome child will not be eligible for a heart operation/transplant due to their disorder, but on Benotafraid.com, every parent who reported heart issues was able to obtain surgery for the child. So, I just don’t know. Moreover, the point in this matter is that any hospital or transplant comittee that categorically refuses transplants to disabled people is committing an act of grave prejudice and it is the doctor/genetic counselor’s duty to inform the woman that she can go somewhere else to have the transplant done. The way the women phrased it, it sounded as if they were told that no one would do a transplant anywhere, which is not true.

  • crowepps

    My point was that parents who believe they are guaranteed that their pregnancy will produce exactly what they want, the child ‘of their dreams’ with specific qualities, are precisely the ones who have a ‘return to sender’ attitude.  Perhaps if people had a more realistic view of what parenthood is about and the unlikelihood of turning out a perfect copy of their awesome selves, they would have a different attitude towards the possibility of a child with a handicap.

     

    In the current climate, if there WERE prenatal tests for prettiness, intelligence or sexual orientation, I believe those same parents would use them, because their focus is on getting the child who they believe will meet THEIR needs rather than preparing to be good parents who will meet the needs of whomever the child is that they produce.