Disability, Abortion, and Ethics: A Response to Sierra


Cross-posted with permission from Tiger Beatdown.

I’m still seething over this post at RH Reality Check, in which I am essentially informed that my life has so little value, is so not worth living, that I was such a burden on my father to raise, that I should have been aborted. Things like this are why I have problems interacting with the mainstream reproductive rights movement, which seems bent on using us as a tool just as much as the right is. In this piece, in which not a single actual living disabled person appears, the author proceeds to lay out an argument for abortion for disability that has, rightly, gotten the disability community up in arms.

It starts with a very dismissive, snide, flip introduction in which the author effectively says ‘read this or not, I don’t really care, but don’t hate me!’ The key sentence of the introduction tells you a lot about what is to follow: ‘I believe that abortion of a disabled fetus can be a compassionate choice made for morally sound reasons, and does not at all conflict with the respect due to disabled people.’

I…disagree.

But let’s take Sierra’s points one by one, because it seems that whenever disabled people react with anger to rhetoric like this, we’re penalised for it. So, Sierra, here we go. Prepare for logic.

Sierra points to an article about prenatal testing, which I happen to agree is great science. We can find out more about a fetus than ever before with the benefit of tests which allow us to make informed choices about the pregnancy. Those choices can include abortion, preparing for birth, taking special precautions, and other measures that are private medical decisions. Inevitably, the fact that it’s possible to test for many common disabilities means that abortion for disability is going to come up as a topic.

This is a fraught ethical subject, and it’s fraught in no small part because of the social devaluation of disability. On the right, people with disabilities are fetishised as tools and instruments to a larger end; conservatives make sweeping statements about ‘respecting life’ when it comes to fetuses who might be born with disabilities, though of course they do nothing to support those fetuses once they’re born. This rhetoric does not allow room for the fundamental humanity of people with disabilities. Meanwhile, the left treats us like we don’t exist and aren’t a part of society, and don’t belong in society, frequently advancing arguments like Sierra’s: that abortion for disability is, quote, ‘a positive moral choice.

She says the article fetishises disability. Again, I agree on this point. Like a lot of media, it talks about disability as a ‘gift’ and the author, like Sierra, apparently didn’t feel the need to include the voices of actual disabled people in her piece. Sierra proceeds to give lip service to the disability rights movement, but here’s the moment where she goes off the rails:

‘Respecting the rights of disabled people does not mean honoring or celebrating disability itself.’

An actual recordskip occurred in my house at this moment. Excuse the fuck out of me, but some aspects of the disability rights movement absolutely are about honouring and celebrating disability itself. I’m disabled and proud. I love who I am and I’m not settling for this body and mind, dealing with it because it’s there, overcoming anything, or making the best of a bad deal. I am who I am because of my disabilities, I love who I am, I love my disabilities as part of myself. You’re better damn well bet I’m going to honour and celebrate that, and raise my fists in solidarity with disabled people all over the world who feel the same way.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean all disabled people share that sentiment and experience. And that’s okay, because there’s room in disability rights for everyone. What I am pushing for is disability as a value-neutral status that individual disabled people, not the people around them, get to make of what they will. Maybe that means celebrating your amazing body. Maybe that means corrective surgery. Maybe that means something else entirely.

‘I’d wager most people who are disabled would rather not be.’

Wrong. Maybe instead of speculating about the experience of disability, you should have consulted actual people with disabilities, explored the vibrant and lively disability rights movement, and interacted with the people you’re writing about. I’m assuming you didn’t think to do that because you apparently believe we live lives of unrelenting suffering, and/or we can’t communicate with nondisabled people; or was every potential interview subject too busy to fit you into their schedules between morning misery and afternoon moping?

Sierra says:

I get that who we are is shaped by experience and that many disabled people consider disability to be integral to their personalities – just as I see poverty as a formative experience for me – but I doubt they would have chosen to be disabled in the first place. Would they have voluntarily given up able bodies for the wisdom earned from being disabled? Would they refuse treatment, if it were available? Would they choose to suffer disabilities just so that their parents could have the “reward” and “special gift” of raising them?

Let’s deconstruct this a bit. Again, Sierra is speculating on an experience that is not hers, and she’s making assumptions based on her own view of the world. She ‘doubts’ that we would choose to be disabled. She doesn’t know that. As she herself acknowledges in her own snipey introduction, fetuses aren’t capable of making choices (we’re focusing, for the purpose of this piece, on congenital and genetic disability rather than acquired disability). I can say, from my own experience, that I wouldn’t choose to be any different even if, yes, sometimes my disabilities are frustrating and pose obstacles for me. I can also say, from my own experience, that I have refused some treatments for my disabilities, and so do some other people with disabilities.

In fact, some people forcibly labeled as disabled, like some autistic people and some Deaf/hard of hearing folks, don’t identify as disabled. And they refuse treatment for what they (rightly) see as a natural human variation.

Speaking of fetishising disability, Sierra, I’m not ‘wise’ because I’m disabled. I’m a human being. Disability hasn’t conferred any more or less wisdom. Disability is not ‘suffering,’ and the fact that you use this word clues me in to the fact that you have a very ableist view on the world, for all that you attempt to use language from the disability rights movement to convey your understanding of what it’s like to live with disability. And you’re centring parents here in a rather striking way.

Wanting to eradicate a condition that causes suffering or dependence in a population is not the same as wanting that population to die.’

Statements like ‘I want a cure for autism‘ or ‘I want a cure for Down Syndrome’ are eliminationist in nature. These statements indicate that you want an entire population to disappear. And, newsflash, attitudes like these are why parents who torture, abuse, and kill their disabled children are often not held accountable. Because raising a disabled child is such hard work and the extenuating circumstances should surely be considered when evaluating the case.

Sierra and I actually agree on point two; acting like disabled children are some kind of special lesson and growth object is indeed dehumanising and gross. That said, disability doesn’t create inherent suffering. It’s notable that she focuses on only two disabilities, Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis, in this piece. I’d be curious to know which other disabilities she believes fall under the rubric of ‘suffering.’ Individual parents need to make individual choices based on available information about the pregnancy and their lives, something I think Sierra and I can also agree upon, but she’s pushing very hard on the argument that abortion for disability is almost necessary if you want to make the correct ethical choice for a pregnancy.

Simply put, it’s not. It’s not like the idea of aborting for disability is anything new, or that parents don’t get a lot of pressure to jump to abortion rather than more information as soon as a prenatal diagnosis is delivered. Choosing abortion because you don’t have the capacity to care for a child is a reasonable ethical choice, and it’s not the only option, though I’d note that people are not exactly lining up to adopt disabled children, nor are social services rushing to provide support to disabled children and their families. Choosing abortion because you feel no one could offer the child a good quality of life is a value judgment on someone else’s life, but it’s also a personal choice because you’re the one carrying that fetus, which makes it yours to make and no one else’s. Ultimately, the option people feel most comfortable with is a personal decision, and that decision is the most ethical one for a given pregnancy.

Next, she brings up the issue of class, a key component in this discussion, as I’ve actually talked about here in the past. However, Sierra’s approach to it is utterly backward. Rather than saying we need to talk about the lack of social support for people with disabilities, including both the lack of financial resources and the ableism rife in this society, she apparently thinks the solution is to abort disabled children. Because their lives aren’t worth living (see ‘suffering’ above) and their parents can’t afford to give them the quality of life they deserve, the natural solution is not agitation on a larger scale for social change to tear apart the system that forces people to make the decision to abort for economic reasons, but to simply promote abortion as the right moral choice. No one should have to abort a children for economic reasons or for lack of social and community resources, and that is what we should be working towards.

Her next point rehashes some very old, tired, and boring arguments about how caregiving is so hard and won’t someone think of the family. Here’s the thing: Providing care for any child is difficult, and disabled children do present some extra challenges. The problem here, though, is not that children with disabilities are inherently difficult to care for, but that caregivers enjoy absolutely no social support.

Accessing respite care, funding for aides, daycare, and other forms of assistance is virtually impossible, unless you are, yes, very wealthy. We need to be talking about this. We need to be asking why discussions about abortion for disability focus on how awful disability is and how painful it is to have a disabled child, instead of how terrible it is that society can’t be bothered to promote the welfare of disabled people. We need to be asking why arguments like Sierra’s are advanced over and over again, and why people like Sierra don’t examine the deeper social issues going on here.

In her next segment, Sierra makes some striking assumptions about life with disability. She focuses specifically on cystic fibrosis, a condition that actually has variable presentations. And, thanks to medical advances, is much more manageable today than it once was. Does that mean I think people carrying fetuses who test positive should be forced to carry them to term? Absolutely not. But it does mean that I think people making decisions about abortion on the basis of disability need to actually do their homework to find out what they, and their children, might be facing if they decide to continue with the pregnancy.

Finally, she says that the article she references erases parenting, and I agree on that point too. Much anti-choice rhetoric completely elides the bodies of the adult living people who can survive independently who are rather intimately involved in the situation. Ultimately, the pregnant person gets to decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term, for whatever reason. Much as people with disabilities are often talked about and around, pregnant people are often ignored by the right because they are an inconvenience; the right, like the left, doesn’t want to be confronted with the actual people who will be immediately affected by its rhetoric.

I’ve often said that choosing abortion for disability doesn’t mean that you hate disabled people. But when ableist society is contributing to the pressures on you to abort, you need to acknowledge that. I want all children to be born into homes where they are eagerly anticipated and will receive love and support throughout their lives, no matter what their disability status might be. And I want all parents to have all the information they need about their pregnancies to make the best choices for them, and for their children. And I want all parents to have social support so they aren’t forced to make choices on the basis of external pressures like lack of money, lack of access to care, and other issues that can come up when making decisions about a pregnancy.

But I’m not going to sit still for someone telling me that my life is suffering, that my life is not worth living, and that ergo I should have been aborted and people like me should be aborted. I’m on the autism spectrum. There are a lot of people in the world who want to eliminate people like me. I’m not interested in playing the gross anti-choice game of ‘just think who might have been aborted!’ but I would like to point out that because there’s a widespread belief that autism is bad and should be eliminated, living autistic people, as in actual human beings who are around right now, face increased prejudice. That includes hate crimes committed against us, it includes discrimination, it includes abuse by parents and ‘caregivers.’

And that is a problem that articles like this contribute to. I don’t want to be used as a pawn by the right or the left to advance its own agendas about reproductive rights and parenting. Ultimately, parents need to decide what they are equipped for, and I want to provide a world where their choices are supported.

In a world where people, yes, celebrate and honour disability, our lives would be valuable and we would be considered on equal footing as nondisabled people. And in that world, people wouldn’t talk about disability in terms like ‘suffering’ and say that parents have a moral obligation to abort to ‘avoid inflicting suffering.’ They’d say that all parents have the right to make decisions about what happens inside their own bodies, on the basis of as much information as possible, and those decisions are private and not subject to public discussion and judgment.

This should go without saying but I’m saying it anyway: Please don’t bother leaving comments telling me that disability in general is the worst thing ever, that abortion for condition Xyz is morally sound because it’s so awful, that you had a friend once who wished she’d never been born, that progressives aren’t ableist at all and I’m just being unreasonable, that you have a disabled family member who’s just too much work, &c.

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  • crowepps

    “No one should have to abort a children for economic reasons or for lack of social and community resources, and that is what we should be working towards.”

    I’ll agree with this 100%. 

  • thalwen

    The reason Sierra’s article is necessary is exactly because of attitudes like yours. Attitudes that completely erase the difficulties that people and families of the disabled face. Attitudes that say that if you don’t think that a disability is a wonderful thing then you’re worse than Hitler. Attitudes that say that the only thing that disables people is that society isn’t sufficiently accepting. I agree that there is discrimination, however you conflate treatment with discrimination. You say that wanting a cure for a disease and killing your child because it is afflicted with that disease is the same thing. It isn’t and it is extremely insulting to be told that wanting someone to not suffer (and yes, people do suffer) is the same as wanting them dead or not to exist. 

  • progo35

    And the reason that articles like this are needed is because of articles like Sierra’s: articles that conflate disability with untenable suffering. Articles that say you can support disabled people while wishing that a fundamental aspect of who we are were erased. Articles that argue that being dead/not being born is preferable to living as a disabled person.  Articles that take a condescending tone toward their audience’s outrage toward such prejudice.

      “it is extremely insulting to be told that wanting someone to not suffer (and yes, people do suffer) is the same as wanting them dead or not to exist.”

    Tough. It is extremely insulting to be told that believing you are fine the way you are is a delusional frame of mind and that your bodily condition makes abortion for fetuses that would be born as people like you especially ‘moral and compassionate.’

  • ljean8080

    don’t you know?people with disabilities are supposed to spend our time wringing our hands and crying about how hard our lives are.i had 1 person that i was not disabled because i was too cheerful.

  • ljean8080

    i meant 1 person tell me

  • thalwen

    Yep, it’s all about the precious foetus. Screw the woman who is going to have to raise the actual child. Screw the child who will have to live with a disability that, yes will cause it suffering. We need to protect the precious foetus because we need to make a political point. Once the foetus is born, screw it. If either the child or the parent complains that the child is in pain, then they’re being ableist and need to shut up. 

     

    Again you conflate death/killing someone to abortion. Aborting a pregnancy does not kill anyone. A potential life is not the same thing as an actual life. And yes, you can respect real living disabled people and support abortion. You act like every disability is the same, like every disability defines a person and if the person is suffering then the person is deluded by society. You claim to speak for the disabled, yet you don’t give a damn about those that are suffering because your agenda is more important than people’s actual lives. You really think that living with chronic, excruciating pain is the same or preferable to living without it? Then yes, you are delusional. 

     

  • progo35

    When I was going to school (K-12) I had people tell me that I didn’t really have a learning disorder and/or wasn’t a “SPED” because:

    1. I can read

    2. I can read “difficult” books

    3. I have a strong ethical code

    4. I am intelligent

    5. I am friendly

    6. I was well-behaved

    7. I worked hard

    8. I did my homework

    9. I took advanced courses

     

  • progo35

    “Yep, it’s all about the precious foetus. Screw the woman who is going to have to raise the actual child. Screw the child who will have to live with a disability that, yes will cause it suffering. We need to protect the precious foetus because we need to make a political point. Once the foetus is born, screw it. If either the child or the parent complains that the child is in pain, then they’re being ableist and need to shut up.”

     

    That’s NOT what this article (or I) said at all. You are taking things out of context to suit your agenda. The author of this article is clearly pro-choice, as are most people I work with in the disability studies/rights/advocacy community, yet he was offended by Sierra’s focus on abortion as the solution to the suffering that can be part of disabled peoples lives. Did she suggest ways of breaking the oppressive system that leaves some people with disabilities and their families without the resources they need to live with dignity? Did she talk about supporting women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term, or giving up to date medical information to parents facing a prenatal diagnosis for their child? Did she bother to interview anyone with a disability who has addressed this topic, or consult another source other than Christianity Today? NO, she did not. Instead, she extolled abortion as a compassionate solution to those problems. That is why this article is very important-to provide a disability rights, pro choice contrast to the worldview she is encouraging.

    And yes, sorry, but even many women who terminate those pregnancies regard the fetus as a child who was killed by the abortion procedure and is now in Heaven/dead. If they didn’t, websites like A Heartbreaking Choice and BabyCenter’s Termination for Medical Reasons group wouldn’t construct websites with angels and butterflies on them that advise parents on how to hold a funeral for their lost children or how to find books that talk about what the afterlife is like for them. Regardless of how one views the fetus, one must concede that abortion kills the fetus. Abortion is therefore a form of killing, and aborting one’s wanted fetus because of a disability is therefore a statement that that fetus is better off dead than being born with a disability. This is something disability advocates tend to recognize and, yes, we tend to take offense, regardless of where we stand on the issue of abortion rights.

  • thalwen

    There are plenty of articles that discuss supporting parents of special-needs children. There are hundreds of organisations that are dedicated to supporting people with specific disabilities and their families. What Sierra was doing was giving the other side. Abortion is a medical procedure that one in three women will undergo. And yes, some of those women will be faced with the choice to terminate a pregnancy based on information that the child is at high risk of being born with a certain disability. These women deserve the right to be able to discuss their choice and their experience without being shamed not just by the anti-choice community but also by people like you. 

     

    A foetus is not a child. Just because the anti-choice movement conflates the two (and does not recognise the death of a pregnant woman at all) does not make it a fact. The fact that there are anti-choice websites that conflate the death of a child and an abortion or miscarriage does not mean that abortion is killing or murder. Again, it is the conflation between the eugenics movement which killed real, living people and abortion which further stigmatises women and makes it taboo for them to even have a discussion about their choice. 

  • progo35

    “There are plenty of articles that discuss supporting parents of special-needs children.”

    Not on this website. So far, I’ve counted exactly 2. This one: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/10/26/an-overdue-conversation-about-our-obligations-special-needs-children and the one above. Moreover, most articles on the internet take the approach of: “these poor, pitiful creatures…we are mean if we do not help them” and do not incorporate the idea that one can celebrate disability as a form of personal difference. This is because disability rights perspective is still emerging and has yet to completely permeate our social consciousness. Again, this is why articles like this are needed.

    “And yes, some of those women will be faced with the choice to terminate a pregnancy based on information that the child is at high risk of being born with a certain disability. These women deserve the right to be able to discuss their choice and their experience without being shamed not just by the anti-choice community but also by people like you.”

    Everyone has the right to free speech. Everyone has the right to his or her own beliefs. What no one has the right to is to voice those beliefs with the expectation that they will not be exposed to the perspectives of people who do not agree with those words/beliefs. Women certainly do talk about the experience of terminating a wanted pregnancy affected by disability, and they have the right to do so. However, voicing the perspective that such choices are influenced by social ableism is NOT the same as shaming such women. If, for instance, I or the author went on to one of the websites supporting those women and posted our thoughts there, that would be “shaming” such women, because we would be violating their personal “space” in which to vent their feelings/thoughts. In contrast, writing an article discussing the disability rights perspective on such terminations is a needed exercise in free speech and intellectual inquiry. So is commenting on a public article written by parents who incorporate ableist arguments in discussing their terminations. If such women feel “shamed” by the discussion surrounding such articles, they can choose not the read/write them. If they do choose to read/write them, they will be forced to confront a perspective that makes them uncomfortable. This is what disability advocates do when we read articles like Sierra’s and respond. That is what the free exchange of ideas is all about.

    “A foetus is not a child. Just because the anti-choice movement conflates the two (and does not recognise the death of a pregnant woman at all) does not make it a fact. The fact that there are anti-choice websites that conflate the death of a child and an abortion or miscarriage does not mean that abortion is killing or murder. Again, it is the conflation between the eugenics movement which killed real, living people and abortion which further stigmatises women and makes it taboo for them to even have a discussion about their choice.”

    Perhaps you were unaware that the two web forums I mentioned are VERY pro-choice entities. The women there feel that their children were “released” via their abortions and that they were being good mothers by doing what they did. Ie, they embrace the perspective of people like Sierra minus the “it isn’t really a child” mindset. From their perspective, the fetus was a child, and that child is now dead, but their abortions were still the right thing to do.

     

     

     

     

  • joejp

    ‘I’d wager most people who are disabled would rather not be.’

    Wrong. Maybe instead of speculating about the experience of disability, you should have consulted actual people with disabilities, explored the vibrant and lively disability rights movement, and interacted with the people you’re writing about. I’m assuming you didn’t think to do that because you apparently believe we live lives of unrelenting suffering.

     

    The fact someone blind or poor for that matter don’t “live lives of unrelenting suffering” does not — strawman alert — mean it’s wrong to say generally many rather not be blind or poor.  The fact Helen Keller, e.g., had a rewarding life doesn’t mean that — if given the chance — she suddenly would say “hell no! I don’t want to see and hear again! My live is sooooo rewarding now!” 

    ‘I believe that abortion of a disabled fetus can be a compassionate choice made for morally sound reasons, and does not at all conflict with the respect due to disabled people.’

     

    The author of this reply disagrees.  So, there never can be a situation where this is true. Really?  Such extremism is rarely convincing.  After criticizing the original person for being dismissive and snide, the reply is the same — ending with not wanting to listen to people who disagree, dismissing them with disdain.  Maybe, the two can have a snark fest.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • colleen

    Not on this website. So far, I’ve counted exactly 2.

    Just in case you aren’t aware, this is not a site dedicated to disability rights. It’s also not support group for the mothers of disabled children. That’s a good thing too, considering how personally offensive and relentlessly aggressive you and your friends have been here towards the pro-choice mother of a Down’s syndrome child.

  • progo35

    “That’s a good thing too, considering how personally offensive and relentlessly aggressive you and your friends have been here towards the pro-choice mother of a Down’s syndrome child.”

    Normally I don’t respond to you, Colleen, but in this case I’m going to because what you’ve written is inaccurate. I have never been hostile to RealistMom, the member I assume you are referring to. I have disagreed with her, sure, but I have not been agressive towards her personally.  The disability advocate I know who has commented here was not hostile to her either. (That person comprises the extent of the “friends” to which you are supposedly referring). But, given that you’re not above using people’s experiences of sexual assault to justify your arguments, I’m not surprised that you don’t distinguish between an honest disagreement and viscious personal attacks.

    “Just in case you aren’t aware, this is not a site dedicated to disability rights.”

    As the author of this piece writes in his other essays, reproductive rights encompass more than just abortion and womens’ issues. The fact that the site isn’t entitled “Disability Rights and Reproduction” doesn’t make ignoring the disabled community a less conscipuous breach of the human rights consciousness it  seeks to espouse.

  • colleen

    I have disagreed with her, sure, but I have not been agressive towards her personally.

    You most certainly have. You and a couple of your friends who believe that disability rights do and should involve forcing pregnant women to carry every pregnancy to term have attacked her personally and have done so for several years.At one point I recall you were trying to discover where she lived in order to turn her into CPS. Your behavior has been appalling.I write from the perspective of someone who is disabled and am appalled that you pretend to speak for disabled people. You do not.

    As the author of this piece writes in his other essays, reproductive rights encompass more than just abortion and womens’ issues.

    Well, duh. That does not mean that you have any business trying to dictate content at this site. If you want  specific content you can 1. Create it here in a reader diary or 2. Better yet, start your own site where you can dictate content.

  • progo35

    “you have attacked her personally and have done so for several years.At one point I recall you were trying to discover where she lived in order to turn her into CPS.”

    That is a viscious lie. I don’t know what dimension you live in, but I have never, EVER tried to find out where this person lives, threatened to call CPS, or said anything resembling what you have attributed to me. I do think I recall her mentioning, at one point, that very few friends offer to help her out, and I said that many people who comment here would probably be happy to help if we knew her personally, which, presumably, would involve knowing where she lives, but I never suggested that I or anyone else should actually try to determine her location.

    Actually, I’d consider my discussions with this person to be some of the more civil and reasonable I’ve had on this site. Obviously we disagree, but all I said was that I felt that she was uninformed about the eugenics movement and that her view of disability, which is that it is something inherently bad and not part of the diversity spectrum, was wrong-headed. She obviously disagrees with me and feels that my experience as a disabled person clouds my perspective on this matters. These are very contentious subjects which are bound to elicit strong feelings on both sides, but engaging in such discussions is not the same as attacking someone as a person. You, on the other hand, used my experience of being sexually assaulted to make a point. I recall THAT very well. I’m finished with this conversation.

  • forced-birth-rape

    You mocked me about rape, Progo. You were very hateful to me about rape.

  • thalwen

    Disability and women’s rights are issues of human rights, true. The American Revolution and the Great Depression are important events in American history. If I go to a site dedicated to the American Revolution and complain how there isn’t enough discussion of the 1929 stock market crash I shall be deservingly mocked. 

     

    You have the right to free speech, so does Westboro Baptist. You do not have the right to your own facts. The existence of sites that conflate a foetus and a living, breathing, existing child does not make the two the same thing. There are legal and biological definitions and implications that are involved. The women on those sites regarded the fetus as one of their children, which is an emotional response and they are entitled to it. An emotional response doesn’t make something a fact. 

     

    For someone who is supposedly a human rights activist you have very little compassion for your fellow human beings as you see nothing wrong with shaming women for a choice you disagree with. The modern feminist movement has worked hard to reduce the stigma and shame around reproductive choices so we can have a honest and adult discussion and debate over issues involved in it. The fact that you throw out words like ableism and say that they deserve to be shamed shows that your concern is with the non-existent people over the ones that are actually alive. Really, what ableism? Parents who say that they feel the best thing for their pregnancy/child? Yeah that’s certainly the same thing as wanting all disabled people dead. Women deserve the right to discuss their reproductive choices, not with blind acceptance from others, but not with hyperbolic rhetoric for no purpose other than to make that woman feel like a horrible person for making the choice that she did.

  • progo35

    “You mocked me about rape, Progo. You were very hateful to me about rape.”

    No, I did not. I would never do something like that. If you can find and quote one instance of me mocking you over a rape, FBIR, I will make a donation  to NARAL, because it simply didn’t happen. 

  • progo35

    Thalwen, I don’t know who you are, or what your background is, but I don’t think you’ll ever be receptive to anything I or any other disability advocate says about this issue, no matter how much respect the advocate expresses for women and their rights. For whatever reason, you’ve chosen to hear any discussion of the social impetus behind disability-related abortions as an attempt to shame individual women. Me pointing out that no one makes decisions in a vacuum, that disability rights analyses of such terminations are a reflection of that fact, and that most people who have written on this issue support a woman’s right to have an abortion regardless of her circumstances is not going to impact your perspective. Your mind is made up: Anyone who criticizes the perceptions of disability that drive certain abortion decisions is out to shame women, and that’s the end of it. 

  • rebellious-grrl

     Sorry Progo35, but I remember in a previous posting that you did mock FBIR about rape and you were not nice to her.

  • progo35

    Show me the evidence, RG. I maintain that I did no such thing. EVER.  If I said something like that, then quote what I said and provide the link to the article in which I said it. Otherwise, stop making stuff up.

  • progo35

    double post

  • progo35

    And just so we’re equal, here’s Colleen’s comment about MY assault: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/02/08/i-prolife-republicanuntilfell-love?page=1

    The comment was so bad that RH Reality Check eventually deleted it. You can see the “comment removed” note on the previous page, La Plume Assassin’s comment that this reference was unwarranted, and my response. Show me a similar instance in which I made such a remark to or about FBIR.

  • crowepps

    If the comment in question was offensive to you and the editors agreed it was offensive and removed it, then your reposting it years later in order to score points in a discussion is just way, way over the line and the editors should remove it again.

  • forced-birth-rape

    “By that logic, then, anything involves force = rape.”

     

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/09/15/immature-mental-health-diagnosis-give-birth

  • thalwen

    Respect? Respect is being condescending and rude to women who have been in this situation as evidenced by your response to people on this site? I do find it hard to be receptive to someone who takes offence to basic facts. I find it hard to be receptive to people who equate abortion to the killing of living beings. I find it hard to be receptive to someone who takes any comment that doesn’t portray disability as a wonderful thing as an ableist. I find it hard to be receptive to someone who equates abortion to not wanting people to exist anymore.

     

    Were I a woman in this situation or have had faced such a situation I would find your rhetoric to be extremely insulting. You do realise that most abortions that occur for this reason start out as a wanted pregnancy and the woman has to deal with the loss of a wanted pregnancy as well as being told that she’s ableist scum and wants people eliminated. You sound so intellectual and detached now.. not so when you were saying that disability isn’t disabling and anyone who says otherwise or has an abortion due to genetic defects is ableist and doesn’t value disabled people. 

     

    I’ve never said it is impossible to discuss disability issues and reproductive health issues. It should and needs to be discussed. You accuse me of having my mind made up when you are the one who will twist and turn any fact on its head in order to fit your predetermined conclusions, even to suggest that having a shortened life-span isn’t really that bad, oh and it’s probably society’s fault anyway. I don’t really see any point in arguing with you, you clearly are here to promote your own agenda and have no interest in listening. 

  • progo35

    During this conversation, we were discussing whether it is necessary for a doctor to induce fetal demise in the tragic case of terminating pregnancies in children caused by rape and incest.  You had also previously mentioned that forcing someone to give birth is rape because the labor proccess causes that person vaginal pain against her will. In the case of the article you cited, I said that I felt these abortions were unecessary-Dr. Tiller’s method of performing abortion in those cases involved inducing labor anyway, which subjected these children to the same physical process as giving birth to a premature infant.  Hence, I argued, why not terminate these pregnancies by inducing labor early/performing a c-section and transferring the resulting infants to the NICU?  You argued that the difference lies in the fact that the child/her family wanted an abortion, not to give birth to a live infant. I simply disagree with your logic, because I feel it ignores the physical pain that your earlier comparisons rested on. Your argument for allowing fetal demise prior to delivery seemed focused the fetus’ condition post-delivery rather than the actual process of induction. I feel that logic leads to defining rape based on force rather than what the person is being forced to do, hence my comment that “by that logic, then, anything that involves force = rape.” I’m honestly sorry if that was hurtful to you, but it was part of a statement indicating that I disagreed with your logic. It wasn’t a hateful, personal attack against you or your personal history. Colleen’s comment, in contrast, was made in direct reference to a sexual assault that I experienced as a child. Since it’s been deleted, I feel like I shouldn’t rehash exactly what she said, but it wasn’t a general comment in which she disagreed with my position on something related to rape. It was about MY rape. So, again, I am sorry if I hurt you, but I maintain my position that I did not say hateful things about a rape you experienced.

  • progo35

    “I don’t really see any point in arguing with you, you clearly are here to promote your own agenda and have no interest in listening.”

    By the same token, I don’t understand why you have commented on this article repeatedly. Nothing anyone says on the other side will even interest you: you hate this article’s perspective and the fact that most disability studies scholars/rights activists ascribe to it doesn’t impact your perception of it. If we are going to have a discussion about disability and reproductive rights, ableism is going to come up, and it’s going to come up in respect to the termination of wanted pregnancies. If people cannot do this without being denigrated as women-hating fanatics, the conversation cannot take place.

  • progo35

    I was accused of saying something truly heinous and asked for proof to back of the accusation. I am only holding myself to the same standard in backing up my statements about Colleen’s reference to my sexual assault. Although I remenmber he statement, I am not going to quote it, so there is no need for the editors to remove it.

  • rebellious-grrl

    You obviously don’t understand what FBIR is saying. Let me make this clear, women have bodily autonomy over a fetus. A fetus, zygote (or sperm) doesn’t have more rights than I do. If you force a woman/girl/female to carry a pregnancy and give birth against her will, that is equal to rape. It is a rape of her body to carry a fetus against her will. Yes that IS RAPE.

    I feel that your posts have been offensive.

    You should probably make that donation to NARAL. Here’s the link to NARAL http://www.prochoiceamerica.org. Click donate.

  • rebellious-grrl

    FBIR good to see your posts. I remember this conversation — Thanks for the post, I posted it to Progo.

  • thalwen

    Hate’s a strong word. I don’t hate this article or the author’s viewpoint, I hate the conflation of real, living people with fetuses and non-existent future people. The fact that you claim that this is the major view of disability activists does not at all diminish my disagreement because existence isn’t something you put up to majority vote. This is why I comment, because as women we are constantly having to fight for the law to consider us legal, real, human beings and you would put our rights at the same level as a fetus or someone who has not, and may not ever be conceived. That is denigrating and misogynist. I notice you never talk about disabled pregnancy, even though many disabled women are faced with pregnancy and due to genetic factors are even more involved in this debate. But no, the woman doesn’t matter to you, she lives, breathes, exists and may even dare to disagree with you, much better to fight for the imaginary and unborn, they don’t have messy life stories and they don’t disagree. 

  • progo35

    Disagreeing with what FBIR said is not the same as attacking her personally. In the context of a debate, a  personal attack is when a person uses somoene’s identity or experiences to attack their credibility. Commenting on an article that addresses rape and saying, “I disagree with your logic because…” is not the same as saying, “well, you’re just a rape victim, what do you know…” Please show some clear evidence of me actually using one of FBIR’s personal experiences or personal characteristics in a personal attack on her credibility, and I’ll make that donation. Till then, NADA.

  • progo35

    It would be fabulous if RH would do an article on the experiences of women with disabilities who are facing pregnancy and related decisions. If it does, I’ll definitely comment on it. Melinda Tankard Reist’s book, Defiant Birth is great in this respect, especially one essay called “They Told Me My Child Would Want a New Mother,” by a disabled woman who was told that she shouldn’t give birth because the resulting child would hate her.  But I also sense that this criticism is made in bad faith. I think you’re well aware that this topic hasn’t been addressed on this website. I also think that you understand how illogical it is to suggest that I respond to a non-existent article. This article is about abortion, therefore my comments center on abortion.

  • squirrely-girl

    I get the impression you conceptualize all these fetuses as perfectly healthy, viable fetuses for which the woman is just wanting to be rid of… not all disabilities are compatible with life. 

  • progo35

    No, I’m not. But that isn’t really what we were discussing. We were discussing child rape and whether inducing fetal demise was a necessary component to the late termination of a pregnancy in that circumstance. My argument was that labor is labor, and since the child is going to go through that physical trauma either way, inducing fetal demise serves no purpose in preserving her health. To me, rape happens via forcing someone to  undergo a specific physical process against his or her will. Because giving birth to a live child and experiencing a stillbirth result from the some physiological process, precluding the possibility of induced fetal demise prior to that process does not result in forcing a child to undergo an experience of vaginal pain she would otherwise have avoided. Hence, IMO, FBIR’s comparison of the denial of an fetal demise/induced labor abortion to rape rests entirely on the fetus’ condition once he or she is outside the birth canal. Once this happens, the process of labor has concluded, so precluding the use of lethal injection to achieve fetal demise does not result in rape. Again, this is a disagreement over logic. Neither I nor FBIR is a bad person, we just disagree, and this is not the same thing as using each other’s identities to attack one another.

  • colleen

    a  personal attack is when a person uses somoene’s identity or experiences to attack their credibility.

    Do you really think that a clumsy and dishonest attempt to redefine ‘personal attack’ is an effective argument?

  • thalwen

    See, in an abortion, there is this one person involved, she’s called a woman, and she is the one that faces a pregnancy and an abortion. The fact that you don’t see women as being a part of the pregnancy/abortion process and instead focus on the all-precious fetus (or fetus-yet-to-exist) says a lot about your thinking. Disabled women face the abortion decision just like the rest of us and due to the genetic issues in some disabilities might have an elevated chance of having to make this decision with the added awareness of having some idea of what her child will face if it is born. 

  • julie-watkins

    I spent a long time reading this article, rereading the original article, and pondering. This discussion get contentious because government is the core issue, but a lot of discussions don’t address that, at least not directly. I don’t think the “Compassionate Abortion” article you’re responding to addressed that directly; I think that writing that article would have gone in a different, better directionif she had. (Perhaps on the lines of: when society doesn’t give enough support for parents and it looks as if there will be less support in the future, pregnant women have to consider their own circumstances …)

    I thing this is a good discussion to have, because it’s a topic that’s fraught with opportunities for anti-choice groups to try to grab the moral high ground and demonize pro-choice people like me. I’m glad you wrote this and RHRC got permission to post it here.

    And, newsflash, attitudes like [eliminationist statements] are why parents who torture, abuse, and kill their disabled children are often not held accountable. Because raising a disabled child is such hard work and the extenuating circumstances should surely be considered when evaluating the case.

    I disagree with you here. I believe “extenuating circumstances” should be considered … on a case by case basis. I admit it’s hard when the government has its own agendas, but there should be compassion enough to draw a line between “overwhelmed” and “taking advantage of an excuse”.

    We need to be asking why discussions about abortion for disability focus on how awful disability is and how painful it is to have a disabled child, instead of how terrible it is that society can’t be bothered to promote the welfare of disabled people.

    Emphatic “Yes”. I’m reminded of the corporate self-serving choice to get behind “Run for a Cure!” to distract & defund research into WHY cancer happens, because anti-pollution laws & enforcement would cost much more than the “breast cancer cure” minimal funding.

    To briefly restate & rework some ideas I posted to the article you’re reacting to, the shredded safety net is a disgrace. Look at the banksters, who own the government. Used to be, their profits were about 5% of all profits, now it’s up to 50%, and they’re still complaining that any regulations will cause them harm. They want tax money to go to corporate welfare not social safety nets. From their point of view “disabled” is anyone who can’t be a “productive” worker (= profits).

    If government was about the public good then all parents and children would be supported, and disabled people and children would get extra help. The more the discussion stresses individual choices and individual responsibilities and not hammering at the government not doing it’s job the more we’re letting government off the hook. To the extent that we do have social programs it’s human husbandry and local pushback. Just enough social programs to keep the servants loyal and the peasants from revolting.

     

    I don’t think disabled people should be used as pawns. I think ableist “society” got that way because of the banksters’ social manipulation, and it’s in the best interest of all of us to push back and demand that government serve the people (not corporations & profit).