A Pregnant Woman is Not a Meth Lab


By Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

In the past four years, more than 20 women in Alabama have been prosecuted for no other reason than that they tried to continue their pregnancies while struggling with addiction. Today, the ACLU and the ACLU of Alabama submitted a friend-of-the-court brief to the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals, urging that court to reverse the conviction of one of these women, Amanda Kimbrough.

Ms. Kimbrough was convicted under a law that was passed by the Alabama legislature that makes it a crime to allow children into houses where meth labsare operated. However, Ms. Kimbrough was not charged with manufacturing meth — or any other drug; and she was not arrested in a meth lab, but after her extremely premature son was born, and subsequently died, at the hospital. Confused? You should be. Like so many other women in Alabama who were charged under this statute, Ms. Kimbrough was prosecuted not because she brought a child into a meth lab, but because she tried to continue her pregnancy and give birth to her son, even though she was suffering from a drug dependency.

No one is suggesting that drugs are good for embryos or fetuses. For that matter, neither is smoking (or even just living with a smoker), drinking or eating unpasteurized milk products, or failing to get regular prenatal care. But do we really want to make a pregnant woman’s behavior and choices, any health condition she suffers, or even that she lacks health insurance, a crime because it could hurt the fetus? If we do, then virtually everything a pregnant woman does or does not do could land her in jail, because virtually everything a pregnant woman does or does not do — from what she eats, where she works, and what condition her health was in before she became pregnant — is going to have an affect on her fetus. Allowing the government to exercise such unlimited control over women’s bodies, and every aspect of their lives, would essentially reduce pregnant women to second-class citizens, denying them the basic constitutional rights enjoyed by the rest of us.

Moreover, from a public health perspective, these prosecutions are simply counterproductive. You’ve heard us say this before: Respected medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have long opposed these sorts of prosecutions because they only undermine the health of moms and babies.

If, as a society, we are truly interested in supporting healthy moms and babies, we would not be undermining basic constitutional principles in order to throw the pregnant women and mothers who need health care most into jail. Our efforts should be focused on ensuring that pregnant women get the treatment and support they need. Hopefully, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals — as well as prosecutors across that state and the entire country — will finally agree.

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  • jillymint

    There is a HUGE difference between drinking unpasteurized milk and doing drugs while you are pregnant. Endangering a child’s life (and also risking giving birth to a drug-dependent baby) is a CRIME and it is wrong. No one is saying that women can’t have autonomy over their bodies, just that they can’t do hard drugs while they are pregnant. As pro-choice as I am, I have a hard time accepting that these women aren’t committing a serious offense. To say that charging a woman with child endagerment (when she seriously endangered a child) leads to unlimited control over women’s bodies is a slippery slope. We have to draw the line somewhere and we have to make it clear that it is unacceptable for women to engage in hard drugs during their pregnancy. If a woman decides to carry her child to term, doesn’t that child have the right to a healthy and productive life?

  • bei1052

    Explain to me how prosecuting a pregnant woman for meth use (which is illegal, mind you) undermines the health of the child? I can’t quite wrap my head around the notion that a woman should be able to carry a child to term, yet be able to purposely do things to harm it. You would never apply that logic to a born child, so why an unborn child?

  • progo35

    Ms. Kimbrough was prosecuted not because she brought a child into a meth lab, but because she tried to continue her pregnancy and give birth to her son, even though she was suffering from a drug dependency.

     

    It sounds more like she was attempting to continue her dependency while she struggled with a pregnancy. And, a woman who goes into a hospital for treatment while pregnant is not going to get sent to jail, it’s women who are pregnant and don’t get treatment, nor do they seek it or seem to care that the drug could cause fetal harm.

  • crowepps

    And, a woman who goes into a hospital for treatment while pregnant is not going to get sent to jail

    Well, yeah, they were indeed, until the Supreme Court stepped in:

    At issue in the case was a policy at the Medical University of South Carolina , under which some women were arrested in their hospital beds after testing positive for illegal drugs and jailed under the state’s child-endangerment law.

    In the fall of 1989, MUSC began testing the urine of pregnant women suspected of cocaine use and, in some cases, reporting the results to law enforcement officials. Later, the policy was amended so those patients who tested positive were given a choice between being arrested and receiving drug treatment.

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93769&page=1

     

     About 30 out of 250 women were arrested, and 2 were prosecuted. 

    http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/cases/reporting/FERGUSON_v_Charleston_brief.htm

     

     

  • crowepps

    Explain to me how prosecuting a pregnant woman for meth use (which is illegal, mind you) undermines the health of the child?

    Scenario 1

    • Women goes into clinic to see if she’s pregnant.
    • Clinic says, yes, you’re pregnant.
    • Woman says, I need a drug treatment program to quit meth.
    • Clinic puts her on priority intake at drug treatment program.
    • Woman in program receives both pre-natal care and drug treatment resulting in healthier fetus

     Scenario 2

    • Woman goes into clinic to see if she’s pregnant.
    • Clinic says, yes, you’re pregnant.
    • Woman says, I need a drug treatment program to stop using meth.
    • Clinic calls cops and reports her ‘crime’.
    • Woman is put in jail where she quits cold turkey endangering fetus.

    Scenario 3

    • Woman knows using meth while pregnant is illegal
    • Afraid the clinic will call the cops woman doesn’t go to clinic at all
    • Lack of pre-natal care AND meth use affect fetus
  • bei1052

    Scenario 4:

     

    -Woman is 25 weeks pregnant.
    -Woman continues to do meth.
    -Woman’s baby is born prematurely.
    -Woman’s baby dies.

     

    *hint hint, wink wink*

     

    You can’t abort a kid after 24 weeks, but you can sure as hell cause it all sorts of brain damage, stunt its development and even kill it through an illegal activity without repercussion after 24 weeks. Hooray for freedom!

  • progo35

    Moreover, for a website full of people who are so down on having a disability, who seem to think it’s a Fate Worse than Death, I’m surprised that more people here don’t support intervening when a woman’s drug use could cause their unborn child to be born and live with a disability.

  • crowepps

    I think women who are pregnant should jump the line and be the first admitted to treatment programs.  I think there ought to be special programs just for pregnant women so that they can receive both drug treatment and prenatal care.  I think pregnant women should get FREE drug treatment and prenatal care.  I don’t think arresting them and putting them in jail is ’intervening’ but instead punishment.

  • moms-living-clean

    I agree that pregnant women should be given the chance to go to a gender specific treatment program where she can have her baby with her.  I am in the process of making a documentary Moms Living Clean about this issue.  I followed six women in a gender specific treatment program in San Rafael, California, that helps moms learn recovery and parenting skills and become self-sufficient.  For more info and to view the trailer visit: http://www.momslivingclean.org

    Best,

    Sheila Ganz, Director

  • bei1052

    And what should happen to a women who, through actions which are illegal (as the use of meth is), cause harm to her unborn child? You’d say nothing, but then this leaves us with a bit of a predicament. As I pointed out in the above case, the fetus was 25-weeks. That’s post-viability. It seems odd to me that you would argue that after a certain period of time, a woman cannot have an abortion, but she can do everything in her power to bring harm to that child, including death, throughout all of pregnancy.

     

    That doesn’t make any sense, as those two statements are incongruent.

  • eesathena

    Sorry, but I think your second and third scenarios are a wee bit fallacious.

    In scenario 2, you suggest that a pregnant woman would be jailed after *asking for help* with her meth problem. It seems to me that the crime people are concerned about here is knowingly harming a fetus that you are planning to bring into the world. We generally don’t jail people when they voluntarily enter rehab, so there is no reason to think that the woman in this scenario would be in legal trouble. The only reason the clinic would report her would be if she said “I have no intention of quitting meth”…then it police intervention might be necessary, because that starts to look like child abuse. (Although I’d like to think that any judge worth his/her salt would send this hypothetical woman to rehab instead of imprisoning her.)

    And while I’m sure that scenario 3 is a more realistic one, I think that some good public service announcements might be useful here. If a woman knows that clinics won’t report her drug use as long as she consents to treatment, then there is no fear to go to the clinic.

  • progo35

    I think the core issue here is helping women who don’t want to seek help. For instance, I think Sheila has the right idea-a program to help women who need it rather than punishing women. But, what about women who won’t go for treatment unless it’s court ordered? Can courts be involved then and compell her to receive treatment? Because it seems to me that the ACLU and this article is opposing court intervention all the time, even if the intervention results in mandatory in patient treatment, rather than jail in a correctional facility. This is really want I mean when I say “intervention.” Jail could hurt the woman and her baby, but treatment can only benefit them both.

  • crowepps

    I’m not sure how aware you are what addiction is and how the psychology of it works or the cycles in which it is known to operate, but people do not CHOOSE to be addicted any more than they CHOOSE to have cancer.

     

    I really don’t see much difference between involuntary treatment and just dumping them in jail. If they are not committed to the treatment and staying clean, it won’t work. I would also point out that attempting to help them beat the addiction ONLY BECAUSE YOU’RE WORRYING ABOUT THE FETUS seems to indicate that if addicted women aren’t pregnant, are far as you are concerned the hell with them.

  • progo35

    Eesathena-absolutely right.

  • progo35

     

    “I really don’t see much difference between involuntary treatment and just dumping them in jail.”

    Then let me spell it out for you:

    Mandatory treatment forces the person to go to rehab in an inpatient hospital. clinic, or other medical setting, with the intent of curing or otherwise ameleorating the drug problem.

    Jail forces the person into a correctional facility where the intent is punishment.

    “If they are not committed to the treatment and staying clean, it won’t work. I would also point out that attempting to help them beat the addiction ONLY BECAUSE YOU’RE WORRYING ABOUT THE FETUS seems to indicate that if addicted women aren’t pregnant, are far as you are concerned the hell with them.”

     

    Well, sorry, crowepps, but if someone wants to ruin their own life, that’s one thing. If they screw with someone else’s life, that’s different. Yes, people should have access to free and/or accessible treatment, and we should care, but people also have free will. The child has to LIVE with whatever consequences are incurred from the drug use. At that point, they are not a “Fetus,” they are a CHILD. And, since you seem to feel that disabled children would have been better off being aborted, you should be sensitive to that. Frankly, your hypocrisy disgusts me.

  • progo35

     

    “I really don’t see much difference between involuntary treatment and
    just dumping them in jail.”

    Then let me spell it out for you:

    Mandatory treatment forces the person to go to rehab in an inpatient hospital. clinic, or other medical setting, with the intent of curing or otherwise ameleorating the drug problem.

    Jail forces the person into a correctional facility where the intent is punishment.

    “If they are not committed to the treatment
    and staying clean, it won’t work. I would also point out that
    attempting to help them beat the addiction ONLY BECAUSE YOU’RE WORRYING
    ABOUT THE FETUS seems to indicate that if addicted women aren’t
    pregnant, are far as you are concerned the hell with them.”

    Well, sorry, crowepps, but if someone wants to ruin their own life, that’s one thing. If they screw with someone else’s life, that’s different. Yes, people should have access to free and/or accessible treatment, and
    we should care, but people also have free will. The child has to LIVE with whatever consequences are incurred from the drug use. At that point, they are not a “Fetus,” they are a CHILD. And, since you seem to feel that disabled children would have been better off being aborted, you should be sensitive to that. Frankly, your hypocrisy disgusts me.

  • arekushieru

    Mandatory treatment is also not required for people who smoke and harm the lungs of an ACTual child.  So, would you require them to go in for mandatory treatment?  If so, I say ‘ugh’.  Even THOUGH my brother’s asthma was often exacerbated by my parent’s smoking.  After all, he agrees with me.  If you wouldn’t require them to do so, I’ll say it with an even bigger ‘UGH!!!’.  Requiring one thing for something that’s NOT a choice but not for something that IS a choice?  (Which is why I won’t require either to do something….)  Hmmmm….  Sounds like hypocrisy to me.  It shouldn’t matter whether it’s legal or not, after all.  Sorry.

     

    NO one is a ‘child’ at LEAST until that infant has been taken home from the hospital.

     

    Yes, but so does the woman have to live with the consequences of drug use.  You seem to have ignored that along with the FACT that drugs don’t affect fetuses in the womb as much as people originally thought, so, given that, she seems to be the one who will be affected more.  And you STILL seem to be unaware that these women are looking for active support (the difficulty one has in finding someone to give her that help, unless it’s by force - which just alienates the woman and makes HER unwilling to undergo the treatment - should not be used as a marker to determine whether or not she is willing to go through with it, after all), AND that one must ignore the fact that she didn’t choose to have the function of pregnancy developed and grown within her.  So, in effect, you are merely punishing her for that, ignoring her medical privacy in favor of a feoti, one whose quantity and quality should not be as of much value as a woman’s quantity and quality, if one truly cares for women. 

     

     

     

     

  • arekushieru

    Ummm…NO, because drug exposure in the womb actually effects the fetus’ development-they have PERMANENT injuries when they are born. If someone has asthma, the exaccerbation of the condition does not result in the same harm that exposure to drugs in the womb does.  Secondly, a smoking parent can go outside and thus ameliorate the harm that the smoking will cause the child. A pregnant woman cannot remove herself from the fetus in order to do crack.>>

     

    Would these comments about permanent injuries be the same as the ones that reference how harmful crack addiction was to fetuses?   Then my point stands. 

     

    And you still are unaware that you explained exactly why pregnant women should not be penalized with such laws.  You are invading their medical privacy by doing so.  Can we invade anyone else’s medical privacy (which is the right to determine which treatment and risk one will take) because of a biological function that is developed and grown without their volition? No.  So the woman just had the severe bad luck to be born female (which kinda emphasizes the other point that I was making that you completely ignored, earlier, when claiming it was not hypocrisy.  That part about choice and not a choice – of which the pregnant woman falls into the latter) that makes her right to medical privacy so much more easily invaded and her freedoms so much more easily curbed…?  So the women’s rights are less important than fetal rights?  When there is a state of competing rights then the person which society places expanded value upon should supercede those of the one that it places a narrower value upon, otherwise you inherently say the woman’s rights are lesser. 

  • progo35

    Are-ah, I see. Autonomy is supreme above everything else, even if there is a significant risk of harm to someone else. Your “point stands” because autonomy is your god. The RESULTING CHILD should have to be born with significant physical injuries that will alter the course of his or her ENTIRE life, so that the woman can do WHATEVER SHE WANTS with her body. Great, Are. Just TOTALLY IGNORE the fact that what’s at stake here isn’t “the fetus,” it’s the child who will be born. So, I am not pitting the woman’s rights against those of the FETUS, I am contrasting them with the rights of her CHILD, AFTER it is BORN. 

  • arekushieru

    Way to miss the point.  The past is in the past, when you use a woman’s drug use in the previous pregnancy to assert harm on the current child, you are curbing a woman’s freedom merely because she can and does get pregnant and she can and does give birth.  Autonomy IS supreme, meaning it is the most fundamental right in this country, your country and many other countries.

  • progo35

    Note to editors:

    I’m pretty sure that the posts by skinnymaggie and skintreatment are spam, which is why I “reported” them.

  • progo35

    The past is in the past? We’re talking about a pregnant woman’s drug use NOW.  Not “in the past.” Why don’t you go and give your little shpeel to someone who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome or some other condition RIGHT NOW because his or her mother didn’t give a crap enough to seek treatment while pregnant and thereby POISONED them while they were a fetus? Ah, I know-you’ll just tell him or her that that she should have had an abortion! Way to go!

  • crowepps

     The RESULTING CHILD should have to be born with significant physical injuries that will alter the course of his or her ENTIRE life

    Golly, you say that like it’s a BAD THING that the child will be disabled.  Isn’t that kind of — prejudiced?

  • arekushieru

    We’re talking about a pregnant woman’s drug use NOW.>>

    Hmmm, I do believe this was what I was talking about beFORE, then you decided to change it to the PRESENT effects on the ACTual child, in reference to this case, which means AFTER the woman has given birth, now you’re changing it back again.  I have seen some pretty fancy goal-post changing before but I think this one takes the cake, in my own experience.

     

    Actually, my mom worked with a child who had FASD.  Guess what, they pretty much functioned normally and never felt any resentment towards their mother for their diagnosis, who they have lived with their whole life.  Not saying that this is how all of them may feel, but I think it clarifies the idea that your assumptions are exactly that, assumptions.  After all, too, they may feel resentment but perhaps not for what you assUME they might…?

     

    Hmm, <<the mother didn’t give a crap enough to seek treatment>>, did you just comPLETEly bypass the statement, not only once but twice, about women who seek treatment and receive it are more likely to go through with it than those who are forced to seek it out… or did you just ignore it because it didn’t coincide with your own views…? 

     

    Btw, way to put words in my mouth.  And… way to TOtally misrepresent the ProChoice movement.  I would support her in whatEVER decision she made about her own body.  In fact, I have NEVER had a friend who aborted at the time I knew them, even though I had *no* ACTual idea what effect their decision might have on the fetus but was pretty sure it was nil (which is why I didn’t encourage them to seek treatment rather than mandate it, as I have been advocating for), and I was happy for EACH and EVERY pregnancy.  Derrr….  *Faceplant*

  • progo35

    “Actually, my mom worked with a child who had FASD.”

    Yes, and a lot of homophobes I know have gay friends. The whole “I know an X” is old. 

  • arekushieru

    Hmm, did you completely miss the rest of my post where I said that was irrelevant?  It sure LOOKS like it….  Btw, I do believe I was using that to point out that we should not make assumptions either way, MEANing, I am not saying that just because I know someone who does not feel bitter towards their mother ALL people don’t, AS you complained I was trying to use it.  Thanks. 

  • progo35

    “Mandatory treatment is also not required for people who smoke and harm the lungs of an ACTual child.  So, would you require them to go in for mandatory treatment?  If so, I say ‘ugh’.  Even THOUGH my brother’s asthma was often exacerbated by my parent’s smoking.  After all, he agrees with me.  If you wouldn’t require them to do so, I’ll say it with an even bigger ‘UGH!!!’.  Requiring one thing for something that’s NOT a choice but not for something that IS a choice?  (Which is why I won’t require either to do something….)  Hmmmm….  Sounds like hypocrisy to me.  It shouldn’t matter whether it’s legal or not, after all.  Sorry.”

     

    Ummm…NO, because drug exposure in the womb actually effects the fetus’ development-they have PERMANENT injuries when they are born. If someone has asthma, the exaccerbation of the condition does not result in the same harm that exposure to drugs in the womb does.  Secondly, a smoking parent can go outside and thus ameliorate the harm that the smoking will cause the child. A pregnant woman cannot remove herself from the fetus in order to do crack or drink herself silly. Moreover, smoking is one thing, doing crack is another. Would you consider it okay for a parent to expose their kids to crack without governmental intervention? Obviously no, so you must think that giving crack to a child is worse than exposing him or her to cigarettes, no matter how bad that is. So, it’s not hypocrisy. sorry.

  • progo35

    “Hmm, did you completely miss the rest of my post where I said that was irrelevant?  It sure LOOKS like it.”

     

    If it were irrelevant, you wouldn’t have mentioned it. I also have a disability. People with such conditions don’t generally run around feeling “bitter” about the disability itself, so I am not shocked that your mom’s student does not do this. The disability itself is irrelevant-it’s the injury that is relevant to the discussion at hand. For instance, people who need to use wheelchairs after car accidents don’t necesarily go around feeling bitter and angry about it,  but that doesn’t mean that wearing seatbelts shouldn’t be mandatory, because injuries in general are bad.

  • arekushieru

    Um, I DO believe I referenced that, *as* well?  Like the fact that I was talking about how I COULD have brought it up and applied it across the board, like you did with the bitterness and resentment that affected individuals have felt towards the female parent for it, but I didn’t, for that very reason, as a reminder why we *should*n’t do that? 

  • progo35

    But you DID bring it up, and you DID apply it across the board, Are.

  • arekushieru

    Do you not know what the term facetious means?  Obviously not.

  • progo35

    Crowepps-

    I did NOT say it was a bad thing for the child to be disabled, I said it was a bad thing for the child to be INJURED. Ie, the INJURY, not the DISABILITY, is the BAD thing. “Disability” is an identity. “Injury” is an act. According to your logic, I shouldn’t support seat belt laws because that would send the message that disabilities are bad. That’s crap.

  • arekushieru

    Yup, don’t know the definition of facetious.  Also, I was being ‘amusing’ by making an overgeneralized comparison to your own overgeneralized statement.  So, don’t know the definition of facetious but also can’t distinguish between what IS amusing and what isn’t.

  • skatter

    Comparing unpasteurized milk to meth is like comparing apples to arsenic. And defeats the point of the article by making the writer look both ignorant and a dupe of the factory farm industry.

      

    Louis Pasteur himself was against using his process – originally developed for beer and wine - on milk, which he considered an almost perfect food.

     

    The history of milk pasteurization has more to do with dairy industrialization than any true safety concerns. If the cows are fed grass, the way they are supposed to be, are kept reasonably clean – no factory farming as that is inherently NOT clean -, and milked in a clean enviroment, there is no reason for the milk to be unsafe.

     

    Besides, the pasteurization process destroys most of the milks nutritional value without a guarentee of preventing the main diseases that the process supposedly prevents. Just look at the milk related outbreaks of recent years. Almost all came from pasteurized milk, especially factory farmed milk. The one or two that could be traced to raw milk were from sick workers who mishandled the milk in violation of their company’s policies. NOT sick cows, which is common with factory farm outbreaks.  

  • progo35

    Gee, Are, I don’t think you should use a word until you know the definition of it. Just some advice.

  • progo35

    Gee, Are, I don’t think you should use a word until you know the definition of it. Just some advice.

  • arekushieru

    Hmm, sounds pretty much like what I was doing, doesn’t it?  Turning your words against you, thus giving…?  As my subject line states…?  Won’t be so quick to accuse someone who is at the top of the class when it comes to reading of not knowing their definitions next time, eh? 

     

    Besides, is that the only one of my points you could attack, so this is why you’ve distracted from the main topic?  That’s what I will HAVE to assume if you continue and I will ignore any further such remarks.

  • crowepps

    the pasteurization process destroys most of the milks nutritional value without a guarentee of preventing the main diseases that the process supposedly prevents

    Pasteurization was originally instituted at a time when there were no tests available for bovine tuberculosis and other diseases of cows, and no tests available to check the milk itself to see if it was disease free. Pasteurization is extremely effective at removing these germs from the milk, and when it was instituted the incidence among children of diseases like tuberculosis dropped noticeably.

     

    At the present time, when tests ARE available to identify and treat cow diseases, and the milk itself can be checked, pastuerization is less necessary. Cleanliness in dairies is enforced by inspectors from the government and by the purchasers/distributors of large amounts of milk.

     

    Small farms selling milk directly to consumers may or may not be clean and their milk may or may not be safe so consumers should be careful to buy raw milk only where barns and milk handling apparatus are obviously clean and where the seller takes pride in providing a safe product.

     

    There is no evidence whatsoever that heating milk “destroys most of the milk’s nutritional value”, which is largely in minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates, none of which are “destroyed” by heat. Heating the milk may have an effect on some of the vitamins contained in milk. There is no evidence that raw milk contains ‘good bacteria’ necessary to human health, since cow milk is designed to be an ideal food for baby cows, not humans, and would contain ‘good bacteria’ useful to baby cows.

  • crowepps

    “Disability” is an identity.

    That may be the saddest thing I’ve ever read.

    • progo35

      “That may be the saddest thing I’ve ever read.”

      That’s because you have no training in disability studies ideology.  If you took the time to, say, read ANY book on disability studies,  such as the disability studies reader, you will see the disability is regarded as an identity akin to race, gender, etc.

  • crowepps

    I know lots of disabled PEOPLE but I don’t think of them AS their disability as though it were their defining characteristic.  For that matter, I don’t usually define people by their race or gender either, but instead think of them as individuals.  I now realize, of course, that since it’s IDEOLOGY it doesn’t have to actually make sense.

  • progo35

    “Identity” is a multifaceted thing that encompasses many aspects of a person’s experience and personality. Thus, disability, race and gender are identities, but they are only part of one person’s overall identity. I am a disabled person as opposed to someone without a disability. I am also a straight woman as opposed to a gay male. Thus, my identity is different then someone with a different experience. Does that comprise the WHOLE of my identity? NO! But regarding something as an identity and creating an entire self concept from that one identity is not the same thing. 

     

    As to ideology, everyone subscribes to one or more. The one I’m talking about is a point of view holding that disability is not a bad thing and can be celebrated as a part of one’s history and culture. I believe that this is the most healthy way to regard disability and that this is how society should view disability. You do not share this perspective, and thus hold views that conflict with this particular ideology. An ideology isn’t an identity, it is a POV, but it is this ideology that causes me to regard my handicap as a positive aspect of my identity rather than a burden or a tragedy.

    Maybe if you actually READ a book on the subject, such as the Diability Studies Reader, you would know what I’m talking about.

  • crowepps

    Ideology 1. The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture. 2. A set of doctrines or beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.

     

    http://www.answers.com/topic/ideology

    Once again: I do not think that disability is a ‘bad thing’.  [Edited to include - As in 'disabled people are not as valuable to society as the able'.  The disabled people I have known made contributions and were valuable to society, some of them superbly.  I do think that disability is a 'bad thing' to have had HAPPEN to a person, because disabilities "substantially limit one or more of the major life activities of such individuals, to use the Federal definition, and to me being limited and prevented from doing something which an individual WANTS to do is indeed a 'bad thing'.]

     

    I do NOT think there’s any reason to ‘celebrate’ being disabled. The disabled people I know who have addressed this subject would take a ‘cure’ in an instant rather than remain disabled.

     

    I do not think it is ‘healthy’ to celebrate disability (as opposed to diversity). Reading ideological propaganda is unlikely to change my position and I have other subjects in which I am more interested.

     

    I don’t think being handicapped is either a negative or a positive part of a person’s ‘identity’ but more akin to hair color or height. Something that’s there but doesn’t mean much about who the person IS unless they make it so.

     

    I agree that society doesn’t agree with your “doctrines and beliefs”. Good luck trying to change that. First, of course, you’re going to have to get the disabled on board, and good luck there too since many of them find being disabled, to say the least, INCONVENIENT.

  • progo35

    “I do not think it is ‘healthy’ to celebrate disability (as opposed to diversity). Reading ideological propaganda is unlikely to change my position and I have other subjects in which I am more interested.”

     

    Nobody I know who is handicapped shares your perspective that disability is NOT part of diversity, and generally regard calling disability studies propoganda as akin to calling womens studies propoganda. Hopefully, as younger people begin to take the reigns of society, the out-moded ideas purported by those like you will die out.

  • arekushieru

    I see that he/she seems to be deliberately misunderstanding you, too, crowepps.  I thought you were SAYing that it was a major part of diversity.  After all, hair colour distinguishes you from someone else, etc, etc….  Hmmm….

  • progo35

    Well, I might as well say that I’m a woman. Glad to have cleared that up for you. Crowepps did NOT say that disability is part of diversity, rather, she clearly made a significant distinction between the kind of diversity she celebrates and those characteristics that she views as a personal hardship.

  • arekushieru

    I do not think it is ‘healthy’ to celebrate disability (as opposed to diversity)….  I don’t think being handicapped is either a negative or a positive part of a person’s ‘identity’ but more akin to hair color or height. Something that’s there but doesn’t mean much about who the person IS unless they make it so.

     

    …because, I guess, Progo still misunderstands that comment even though you have clearly explained it to ‘her’ (she really seems confused about why I used he/she, too.  I was trying to be fair but, instead, of course, it seems the automatic assumption was that I was demanding she answer it).  Celebrating diversity can also encompass one’s disability when it is NOT considered an identity, after all.

  • ahunt

    Celebrating diversity can also encompass one’s disability when it is NOT considered an identity, after all.

     

    Bears repeating. The person is not the disability. Awareness of the disability obliges considerate behaviors as recognition of the disability, but the condition does not define the person.

  • crowepps

    Nobody I know who is handicapped shares your perspective that disability is NOT part of diversity

    But that isn’t what I tried to say at all.  People have diverse colors of hair: black, brown, blonde, red.  Knowing that tells me nothing whatsoever about their talents, skills, capabilitilies or whether they would nice to know and so it is not useful information in sorting them.

     

    People have diverse physical and mental abilities, knowing that tells me nothing whatsoever about their talents, skills, capabilities or whether they would be nice to know and so is not useful information in sorting them.

    generally regard calling disability studies propoganda as akin to calling womens studies propoganda.

     

    Since the whole point of disability studies (as distinct from equal access and reasonable accomodation to incorporate the disabled seamless into society as equals), is to create a foundation for viewing disability as a minority model and a social, political, and economic construct, it seems to me that it’s a way of solidifying the idea that the disabled are not like us but instead should be defined FIRST by their disability.

     

    My daughter is a person with dyslexia, but she does not see herself as a dyslexic as though she were a member of the tribe of people who are defined by their difficulty reading.

     

    My mother had polio and pretty considerable mobility handicaps but she refused to see herself as a cripple.  As a matter of fact, it used to really piss her off when people said ‘Oh, you won’t be able to  do that’ and she would find a way to do it anyway.

     

    My sister had cerebral palsy which made her right hand close to unuseable, among other things, but when she was asked at a job interview if she thought her ‘handicap’ would affect her work she said, blankly, “What handicap?”

     

    I’ve had fibromyalgia for 25 years and while it has made it necessary for me to make a number of adjustments but I don’t think of myself as chronically ill as though that were my identity.  It’s just a nuisance I have to work around.

    Hopefully, as younger people begin to take the reigns of society, the out-moded ideas purported by those like you will die out.

    I agree that the world is going to hell in a hand basket.

     

    Or did you mean that you think your ideas will make things BETTER for those you insist must center their identity on what they CAN’T do instead of their actual talents, skills and capabilitilies?

     

    Not on the evidence I’ve seen in your posts, which seem to focus on seeing discrimination everywhere you look, insisting everybody can’t stand the disabled and celebrating their victimhood.

  • progo35

    A few years ago I discovered that the paternal side of my biological family is Cuban, as am I. This does not “define” us, but you bet that the Cuban culture has been a big part of their lives and has become more significant for me now that I’m aware of it. Our ethnicity doesn’t define any of us, but it still has a bearing on our identity. So too for those of us with disabilities.

  • crowepps

    You could equally have said, oh, are they Cuban? and then not paid any more attention to Cuban culture.  You chose to make that significant.  The thing that I see as unhealthy about PROMOTING the idea that ‘the disabled should think of themselves as a minority group’ is that it DEFINES them as both ’different’ and ‘separate’ and instead I believe it is healthier to emphasis ‘the same’ and ‘part of’ society as a whole.

     

    I also have a problem with ‘minority’ since if you include everyone with either a permanent OR temporary physical OR mental disability including those of aging, then EVERYBODY is disabled at some point in their lives.  The disabled in Anchorage were unhappy with the new courthouse because the architect had made a ‘statement’ by using very heavy metal-clad doors that were hard to open.  Repeated complaints didn’t get any results.  When one of the judges broke his leg, though, and was on crutches and had to struggle with it, the door was fixed before closing time.

  • progo35

    “I also have a problem with ‘minority’ since if you include everyone with either a permanent OR temporary physical OR mental disability including those of aging, then EVERYBODY is disabled at some point in their lives. “

    Absolutely right, Crowepps. Eventually most of us will become part of this minority. That is why some in the disabled community use the derisive term “TAB” or “Temporarily Able Bodied” to describe people who are ableist yet will, at some point, need the accommodations that they feel comfortable denying to others.

    Also, none of your statements about disability in respect to other minorities make sense. For instance, you and others have made a BIG DEAL out of being adopted because it allegedly deprives someone of his or her “heritage.” This encapsulates race, ethnicity, and culture. If you don’t think that these differences are so important, than why do they suddenly become paramount in the adoption process? Secondly, your statements about your family members saying “I’m not handicapped” simply reveal a difference in language and social perception. What your family members mean is that even though they ARE handicapped, they can STILL do many things, hence, they are responding to a culture that assumes that handicapped people are inacapable of contributing to society or themselves. That is not inconsistent with seeing disability as an idenity-I see my disability as part of who I am and am in graduate school, working as a special ed advocate, and in the midst of a major scholastic project. Thus, I am “not handicapped” if “handicapped” means “incapable.” 

    THIS is the difference between the language I use/position I take and your family members: whenever one of them says they are “not disabled,” they are compensating for our soceity’s perception of the handicapped by distancing themselves from a harmful label. The need for this distance indicates our culure’s fear and revulsion toward handicap. There shouldn’t be any more shame in acknowledging that one is handicapped than there is in acknowledging that one is black, because BOTH are part of human diversity and mean nothing about the person and his or her individual worth/abilities. So, yes, I do hope that society comes to recognize this difference.

  • crowepps

    Eventually most of us will become part of this minority.

    Minority by definition cannot include “most of us”.

     That is why some in the disabled community use the derisive term “TAB” or “Temporarily Able Bodied”

    Using derisive terms for those not in the group is typical of ideologists.

    For instance, you and others have made a BIG DEAL out of being adopted because it allegedly deprives someone of his or her “heritage.”

    Since this is not my opinion, and instead I support adoption, I think you may have me mixed up with someone else.

    This encapsulates race, ethnicity, and culture. If you don’t think that these differences are so important,

    I don’t think any of these things are important in adoption.

    Secondly, your statements about your family members saying “I’m not handicapped” simply reveal a difference in language and social perception. What your family members mean is that even though they ARE handicapped, they can STILL do many things, hence, they are responding to a culture that assumes that handicapped people are inacapable of contributing to society or themselves.

    It’s really nice of you to interpret for me what my family members meant however your view is not consistent with what they have expressed to me.

     That is not inconsistent with seeing disability as an idenity-I see my disability as part of who I am and am in graduate school, working as a special ed advocate, and in the midst of a major scholastic project. Thus, I am “not handicapped” if “handicapped” means “incapable.” 

    Just what do you think the work handicapped means, then?  Or disabled, for that matter?

    THIS is the difference between the language I use/position I take and your family members: whenever one of them says they are “not disabled,” they are compensating for our soceity’s perception of the handicapped by distancing themselves from a harmful label.

    No, actually, what they’re saying instead is ‘don’t define me by the 5% of things I cannot do but instead pay attention to the 95% that I can do.

     The need for this distance indicates our culure’s fear and revulsion toward handicap.

    This sounds like projection to me.  I don’t feel fear and revulsion towards the handicapped.

     There shouldn’t be any more shame in acknowledging that one is handicapped than there is in acknowledging that one is black, because BOTH are part of human diversity and mean nothing about the person and his or her individual worth/abilities. So, yes, I do hope that society comes to recognize this difference.

    I’ll agree with that, although if that is true, then why do you insist that it’s so absolutely vital to make sure a great big freaking DEAL out of being disabled?

  • progo35

    Crowepps-

    We’ve gone on and on and on about this, and honestly, I think you just “don’t get it.” I know you think the same thing about me. So, maybe it’s best if we drop the subject. I feel like we keep going on an on over the same points and not getting anywhere. I don’t agree with you, you don’t agree with me, but at least in America we can live in harmony despite the difference in our worldviews.