• Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

    Absolutely outstanding piece. Thank you!

  • Another_Insight

    Ableism against people with disabilities actually starts in the womb. That’s where otherwise wanted babies are terminated in massive numbers if they are discovered to have a disability. For example the NYT recently reported that over 90% of otherwise wanted babies are aborted if they test positive pre-natally for Down Syndrome. Statistics are similar for spinal bifida and other trisomies, and also quite high for cosmetic anomalies such as clubfeet and cleft lip. It’s another critical area where those of us living with disabilities and “feminists” as defined here part company.

    • marshmallow

      Forcing life on disabled fetii is cruel and inhumane. Only the parents can decide if they are capable of raising a disabled child and giving it the highest quality of care. Not everyone has the resources. Life at all costs is inhumane and cruel. It is not for the disabled child – it is for everyone else and their neuroses regarding fear of non- existence.

      • CatHeader

        Yeah, no, sweetie. You don’t actually get to say who deserves to live and who doesn’t. You don’t get to say whether or not someone’s life is ‘cruel’, regardless of what you think of their bodily situation. It’s not your place to have an opinion on this issue unless you yourself are disabled. Women ALWAYS have the right to choose what they do with their bodies, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work to counter the social issues that make the disproportionate abortion of disabled fetii a reality.

        • marshmallow

          Learn to read. I said only the parents can decide. And my problem is with religious people and pro-lifers who say that creating a disabled child just to watch it suffer is compassionate and loving. And far as I am concerned that is immoral.

        • AtlanticReader5

          Even if we get to a point where kids with downs or other disabilities receive equal treatment, they will still be harder to raise and you will still be bringing into existence an individual who may never be able to achieve a full life, insofar as a rich intellectual life is part of a full life.

          If you are carrying the fetus you have every right to decide if it’s going to come into existence, for any reason you choose. Plus, it’s far easier for everyone to simply not have children with downs, rather than burden society with an individual who will consume an order of magnitude more educational resources than someone with an IQ of 100.

          • marshmallow

            Now wait to be accused of being a commie eugenicist!!

          • Ella Warnock

            “Malthusian eugenicists,” is the preferred term of one of our favorite little trolly-trolls.

    • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

      I have a disability. I also know a Downs person and his Mother intimately. I shared a home with them for a long time. I cared for both of them. I would abort a Downs syndrome fetus in a New York minute. Please support your estimate of numbers aborted for club feet and cleft lip. I think you are chockfull of excrement. Your compassion is zealotry and therefore phony as a $2 bill. It is a much more complicated issue ethically than you present it as.

      • ljean8080

        I have Cerebral Palsey.SHOULD parents be able to end their child’s life after it is born?

        • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

          You tell me. I recognize an AH when I meet one.

          • ljean8080

            What’s an AH?

          • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

            I know you can figure that out.

        • colleen2

          How many times have you asked this question in this forum? 30?
          Each time the answer has been the same. Guess what, WE STILL DON”T ADVOCATE KILLING INFANTS. Noone here has ever advocated killing infants. Killing infants is a felony. Implying otherwise, particularly when you have been answered repeatedly, is an ugly, awful thing to do.

        • marshmallow

          No, dumbass. A child when it is born…is a child.

          A fetus is NOT a child.

        • Jennifer Starr

          A very lame attempt at cheap emotional manipulation.

        • marshmallow

          Mustn’t be all that bad if you can type.

        • HeilMary1

          My anti-choice mom tried to kill me a few times AFTER she disfigured me and NO ONE ever punished her!

      • ljean8080

        How do you feel about WOmen who knowingly carry A fetus with Downs to term,what was so terrible about him?

        • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

          I feel they have a right to make their own choices about their own fertility and fetuses. If you do not know what is so terrible about Downs, do some reading.

        • Jennifer Starr

          My Aunt made that choice, and she is pro-choice. And while she made the right decision for her, she realizes that is not the right choice for everyone.

        • colleen2

          Again, nobody says that a downs child (or adult) is “terrible”. Please stop embarrassing yourself.

        • HeilMary1

          I assume YOU have saved the 2.5 MILLION needed to raise each Down Syndrome child.

          • ljean8080

            I knew 2 people with Down’s.neither cost 2.5 million.

          • marshmallow

            Your anecdata is meaningless. Some forms of downs are so dangerous that the child basically spends it’s life in and out of surgery and requires expensive meds etc just to stay alive for a few extra years

      • marshmallow

        This is why you’re such a badass Plum. You live in the real world, and don’t sugarcoat things.

    • AtlanticReader5

      How does someone else terminating their baby for their own reason hurt you?

      • marshmallow

        They believe that to terminate disabled fetuses will add to discrimination against disabled people currently in existence. Basically, the belief is that it devalues the disabled.

        But there’s a problem with that. By that logic, it would be wrong to *cure* disability in the womb and out of it – because by curing disability, people are acknowledging that disability isn’t a good thing…which, by ze’s logic, will result in the disabled being mistreated outside the womb.

        It’s just silly.

    • http://tiferet.dreamwidth.org Tiferet

      Either you’re pro-choice or you’re not. People have the right to terminate pregnancies they don’t want to continue. It’s not your place or mine or anyone else’s to decide who is allowed to have an abortion or why.

      The anti-choice movement is manipulating the disability rights movement in order to get us back on the track where women seeking abortions had to get the approval of multiple parties before proceeding, hoping to make this process as invasive as possible in order to discourage the most vulnerable women from making the attempt. (Just as they also do with discussions of sex-selection or whether or not someone’s rape is “legitimate”.)

      The facts are that a lot of people who do have disabilities (including me) support the right of parents to make an informed choice about genetic problems, whether or not they choose what we’d choose. Being “pro-choice” only when other people make choices that you approve of is not pro-choice. And there are a fair number of disabled people who do not choose to pass along their disabilities.

      Once a person is born they have the right to live and receive all the accommodations they need. However, the argument that every fetus with disabilities should be born regardless of the parents’ wishes is spurious on several levels.

      Disabilities are also not all equally disabling. People who are against genetic counselling are pretty much all thinking of someone they know who has Down’s syndrome. Many people do choose to continue Down’s pregnancies. Pretty much nobody wants to continue Tay-Sachs pregnancies because there’s no cure. Once a baby is born, they will only live for a few short and extremely painful years.

      Eventually we will reach a point where it’s potentially possible to keep all fetuses alive outside the body until they reach the age of viability, whether or not they are “wanted”–but should we? How many people are already on this planet? How many children are in the foster care system already?

      And if you are going to assert a “right to life” for fetuses with Down’s, how will you argue against a “right to life” for every fetus?

      • RonPaul2012

        Wonderful post. <3 you.

      • RonPaul2012

        Eventually we will reach a point where it’s potentially possible to keep
        all fetuses alive outside the body until they reach the age of
        viability, whether or not they are “wanted”–but should we? How many
        people are already on this planet? How many children are in the foster
        care system already?

        And there are thousands of un-adopted disabled children languishing in foster care and on entire hospital floors. They will never be adopted. They will never know love. The most severely disabled will live their lives tied to a bed, and often abused, because it’s easy to abuse a person who cannot protect themselves and has no real awareness.

        But the pro-lifers don’t think about those children. They think of the minority who are born into a loving family, who go on to lead successful lives. They think of the disabled children who are not so severely disabled that they have to be force-fed, and tied to a bed.

        Speaking up for ‘the disabled’ is just another tool along with faux concern for the ‘black genocide’, and how abortion is the equivalent of the Holocaust.

      • Peace1203

        Those of us in the disability rights movement are perfectly capable of thinking for ourselves and developing its own ideologies; we are not being “manipulated by the pro life movement.” Condescension is not a particularly progressive attitude.

        • colleen2

          I quite agree. It’s just that it’s REALLY difficult to take the Republican ‘pro-life’ disability rights advocates seriously. There really is no non-condescending way to try to shame a bunch of women into abrogating their basic civil rights and sacrificing for your beliefs.

          • Peace1203

            People with disabilities who say “Regardless of whether I believe women have the right to make reproductive choices [which is a separate issue], I also believe that your decision to terminate based on your fetus’ non-fatal disability is influenced by cultural ableism” are articulating a longstanding disability rights position grounded in the principals and logic of disability studies; not “shaming women.” If someone happens to feel ashamed after they hear our perspectives…well, that’s really not our problem.

          • colleen2

            Cute. It seems to me that a ‘strategy’ INTENDED to shame and demean women (and this is CLEARLY your intent) should be discarded when it backfires.
            Besides, the Republicans don’t say ‘regardless of what i believe about the right of women to make their own reproductive choices” when they post here. They generally accuse us of genocide and spew hatred and resentment.
            So, no, just because you’re disabled that does not mean I am going to try to force other women to gestate children they do not want and cannot afford to feed.

          • RonPaul2012

            yeah, so let’s not eradicate any diseases, because that hurts those disabled people who happen to think having the disease makes them ‘special’

  • RainbowExplorer

    I’ve learned, the hard way, that issues around disability are far more complex than most people can even begin to imagine. Having been a healthy, active, overachiever (with three different licensed professional degrees and careers to prove it, not to mention thousands of hours of volunteer work), I became severely and permanently disabled when an incompetent surgeon butchered major nerves during a minor procedure. Consequently, at the age of 44, I was almost instantly partially paralyzed, in severe, chronic nerve pain, and in stage 4 kidney failure (with complications).

    I discovered quickly some things I’d never learned in the 21 years I worked full-time as an RN, BSN, nor the years I worked as an MSW clinical social worker. Firstly, nearly every layperson (and many health care professionals who should know better) make instantaneous judgments about whether they truly BELIEVE an individual is severely or permanently disabled based entirely on their brief visual observations. Nearly everyone considers themselves to be “experts” on who is and who is not disabled (or ability challenged), even if they never finished the 3rd grade!

    If they believe you are disabled, you get one type of treatment but if they don’t believe it, you get an entirely different one, regardless of just how severe your challenges may be (for what are commonly referred to as “invisible disabilities”). It’s as though most adults believe they’ve been created with x-ray vision that can intuitively inform them regarding the disability status of another – what a FANTASY! If they already harbor prejudices against you based on race, religion, age, or body size, they’re less likely to believe you genuinely have the limitations that you do, so put all sorts of additional, unnecessary barriers in your way.

    Secondly, I learned very quickly that those who are not war veterans or who were not born with birth defects/disabilities are not considered “legitimate” members of the physically challenged community. It’s a VERY different experience to live nearly one’s entire life with severe obstacles, as opposed to having to adapt to living with them after building a more conventional life for oneself. The loss of dignity that comes with having been a very highly accomplished, contributing, active middle-aged person making a comfortable income, to struggling just to maintain the most basic of independent living abilities is an indescribable horror.

    There are no family member groups, schools, or other community resources available to provide desperately needed supports and information. One is left to deal with the entire situation on one’s own, regardless of how sick, maimed, or injured one might be. One is left to be abandoned by the community at large who no longer see the knowledge or expertise you still have, merely the broken body you are left with. My mouth, brain, and arms continue to work just fine – I simply can’t sit upright for longer than 2 – 3 hours (due to the paralysis and lop-sidedness of the left half of my torso). That leaves me mostly bedbound at home, as there are very few places for me to lie down to rest, in public or on a worksite.

    I’m not old enough to be “retired” yet I’m lumped in with that group. My careers have all been trashed, right along with my hobbies, and most of my relationships, yet no one includes me in questionnaires about the risks I face in nearly every area of my life. The entire subject of dating has become such a complex nightmare, I hardly know how to address it. Being a member of Mensa, I’m attracted to highly intelligent people, yet they no longer view me as an equal, since my body is broken.

    I don’t really feel like I fit in anywhere, as my disabilities are very unusual and the abilities I still have are no longer desired. On many levels, I feel like I’m on “house arrest” or in “solitary confinement”, as my ability to get out of my home is limited, as is my energy level. If it weren’t for the Internet, I would never have survived this long.

    There’s no way to not be depressed about my situation. It requires SANITY to clearly see just how much I’m battling every day, how isolated I am, and how much I might have achieved if a certain MD had acted ethically and competently. My situation is NOT one that is going to “improve”, nor be “overcome”. There are no “happily ever after” endings about all of this and I know that fact best of anyone. However long I continue to live, the quality of my life is going to suck, big time.

    Yet, I KNOW I’m not the only severely and permanently disabled person who is going through this. Since I’m not institutionalized, nor was I labeled “disabled” when I was young, nor am I a frail, elderly person, I exist in a “no-person’s-land” which supposedly doesn’t exist but is all too real. My point in sharing all of this is to point out that the world of “disability” is so wide and so deep that it is unfair and unreasonable to lump all of the individuals who wear that label into the same category. I’m about as different from a person who was born blind, deaf, or armless, as is possible to be, yet we are all lumped together as though we all share something in common.

    It is the LANGUAGE of disability that needs to be modified. It can’t possibly be a “one-size-fits-all” term used for all of us, since our needs are so widely divergent, right along with our abilities and challenges. Our society needs to grow up and become much more sophisticated on this topic. Just as there are different colors of the rainbow, there are different types and levels of physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges.

    They don’t all fit tidily together under the “umbrella” term of “handicapped” or “differently-abled”. Nor does a single living person have the x-ray vision necessary to EVER be able to clearly understand the alterations that were surgically ravaged upon my body or anyone else’s. If you would pass this information along to others, I would be eternally grateful. The ignorance I encounter is the most depressing aspect of this entire experience.

  • marshmallow

    Pro-lifers like to talk about how they and only they love and care for the disabled, yet some of the pro-lifers here would be the first to force a disabled woman to give birth against her will.

    Pro-lifers only seem to care about fetuses with extra chromosomes, or fetuses who will be born to live 2 hours and then die – they don’t seem to give two shits for actual living, feeling, born disabled women whose lives can be destroyed by pregnancy and rape.

    • HeilMary1

      And they whine about Marxism when their taxes are used to medically improve the disabled!

      • marshmallow

        Exactly.

  • marshmallow

    On a related note…

    http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/texas-father-barred-taking-pregnant-wife-off-life-200600388.html?bcmt=1387651634528-d89e2b59-cd32-4d7b-b6c6-4e4a14f80207_000d4g000000000000000000000000-98cd0bdf-7957-4dd4-984d-a97784d16690&bcmt_s=u#ugccmt-container

    Braindead woman body is kept alive against her wishes because Texas law values fetii more than women…

    The father/husband wants for his dead wife to be taken off of life support. The fetus also went without oxygen for as long as the woman and is probably severely brain damaged.

    Do we honour the woman’s wishes and not treat her like an incubator in death? Or do we bring a potentially braindamaged child into the world?

    • Ella Warnock

      We prolong both their suffering as long as possible. It’s the christian thing to do, or so I’ve been told.

      • marshmallow

        Let the good times roll, Ella:P

  • Guest

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2010/12/man-with-autism-beats-mother-we-can-not-remain-silent.html

    If this sort of thing ever becomes detectable and thus avoidable, you’re damn right I would abort. I’m not living this life, and I don’t expect anyone else to, either. If you wish to throw every dream of tranquility you ever had out the window, knock yourself out. How breathtakingly arrogant to demand that others must as well. These peoples’ lives were destroyed the day that kid was born. Doesn’t sound like it’s “all worth it” to me. Your mileage may vary, but it’s YOUR mileage, not mine.

    • marshmallow

      That is very very sad, Ella:(

  • AtlanticReader5

    It’s inhumane because its unnecessary. An obvious example here (of why its inhumane to have severely disabled children) would be drinking while pregnant and giving birth to a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. This is functionally no different from opting not to abort a disabled fetus when you can just try again.

  • marshmallow

    Saying that people are neurotic/terrified of death is not ableism. I suggest you work on your reading comprehension.

    Millions of people are terrified of non-existence. This is why religion exists. This is why a belief in the afterlife exists. This is why many pro-lifers want every single baby to be born regardless of the degree of suffering involved. This is why they demand that severely disabled people not be allowed to suicide to end their suffering – because *health* people have such fears about death that they want everyone else to suffer in order to allay those fears.

    This is why anencephalic babies are born and left to die over days and months. This is why good, loving “Christians” talk about an extreme neonate who was forcibly resuscitated then left to slowly die over a period of 2 days as a ‘gift from god’ and as something that will ‘teach us all compassion’

    They, and you apparently, don’t give a flying fuck about the actual quality of life of the disabled. You just want to fetishize them and pretend that you’re such a kind soul by giving them the ‘gift of life’ ie the gift of suffering. There are thousands of disabled children living in foster homes and wards across the USA – across the world. These children are often so severely disabled that they spend their lives chained to a bed, force fed, and basically treated like animals. And sexual and physical abuse is *rampant*. A few months ago a cop in the Seattle area wrote about how his brother was beaten to death in a facility all because one of the orderlies didn’t like the disabled kid, so he tortured him every chance he got. And the kid died. And the hospital gets away with it. Because people don’t *really* care about the lives of the disabled – they just care about how it makes them look good by saying that they actually give a shit.

    Here ya go, watch the whole series:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQZ-ERQczj8

    Tell me that I am a horrible, evil person for saying that maybe, just maybe, these children should not have been brought into the world and left to suffer. And don’t kid yourself – though quality of life might be better in the developed world, abuse and neglect is still RAMPANT.

    And watch this too, for good measure:

    http://www.nfb.ca/film/medicine_under_influence

    “This feature documentary tackles a taboo subject: the tragic effects of life-sustaining medical treatment on infants. Through the courageous testimony of a handful of doctors and therapists as well as the shocking stories told by devoted parents of disabled children, this film denounces the lack of support offered to science’s little “miracles.” Once saved, the children are more or less left to their fate by a medical system that does not give them the therapy needed to improve their quality of life and develop to their fullest potential.”

    • ljean8080

      I was very lucky.My parents saw me as a gift

  • marshmallow

    All that matters now is whether or not the father wants his dead wife’s body to be used as an incubator and whether or not he feels inclined to raise a disabled child. It’s up to him, and no one else.

  • colleen2

    Your attempts at emotional manipulation are deeply disgusting and profoundly dishonest.

  • RonPaul2012

    So what you are saying then, is that cures for disabilities should not be invented, let alone implemented, because some disabled people identify so strongly with their disability that they can’t imagine living without it?

  • RonPaul2012

    So in other words, curing or preventing disability is wrong because “Hitler”. That is your argument. All because some people happen to identify with their disability and also happen to be the higher functioning ones – not so severely disabled that they are tied to a bed and abused until they die.

  • RonPaul2012

    Yes. So you want some disabled people to suffer horribly because a minority of you are high functioning and have a good life. Your disability is a badge of honour. It is what makes you great. And fuck any disabled person who might disagree. Your ego trumps their right not to suffer. How narcissistic.

  • colleen2

    “That’s because “burden on society” *is* a eugenicist position and is reflective of able-bodied privilege”

    Coincidentally, denying the poor access to healthcare, food jobs and shelter to BECAUSE they are “burdens on society” is the Republican and conservative position.

  • colleen2

    In this instance I believe you have internalized the unexamined assumption that women are less than human gestation devices and aren’t entitled to autonomy, freedom of religion or the power of consent.

  • RonPaul2012

    http://www.cdss.ca/information/general-information/types-of-down-syndrome.html

    There are three types of chromosomal patterns that result in Down syndrome. They are: trisomy 21, translocation and mosaicism. A blood test is required for chromosome analysis and the type of pattern would be determined at that time.

    Ninety-five per cent of people with Down syndrome have trisomy 21, which means there is an extra #21 chromosome in each cell.

    chromosomes

    Two to three per cent of people with Down syndrome have a translocation pattern. In translocation, during cell division, a part of the number 21 chromosome breaks off and attaches itself to another chromosome, usually the number 14 chromosome. About two-thirds of these translocations occur spontaneously while the rest are inherited from a parent. If the chromosome test shows a translocation, it is recommended that the parents have their own chromosomes analysed as the chance of having other children with Down syndrome may increase significantly.

    Approximately two per cent of people with Down syndrome have mosaicism. In this case, a faulty cell division occurs in one of the early cell divisions after conception, resulting in some cells having 46 chromosomes and some having 47. The percentage of cells with 47 chromosomes instead of 46 varies from person to person.

  • RonPaul2012

    So a vaccine for polio should never have been invented, and doctors should no longer be working to eradicate polio because…

    1) some children may consider polio to be part of their ‘identity’

    2) we wouldn’t want to rob future children of the joy of having an identity associated with polio

    Right?

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