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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Abortion, anti-choice lies about fetal development and ableism

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Author Topic: Abortion, anti-choice lies about fetal development and ableism
Jill2000Plus
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http://abortiongang.org/2011/12/when-anti-choice-propaganda-works-even-on-liberal-minded-folks/

So, this piece was linked to in Scarleteen's twitter feed, and I wanted to comment on it.

The author refers to "scenarios of unliveable awfulness" with regards to terminating pregnancies on the basis of disability, and I think that if she had talked about the kind of scenarios she was referring to, that would have helped make her position clearer. If her scenario is "oh no my kid is autistic/has ADHD/is learning disabled/has down's syndrome" then I would find her statement to be very ableist, I do not think that people who have abortions for these reasons are bad people, and I support the right to body ownership, furthermore I think that in society as it is now, there will be individuals who want to be parents but who think they have a substantially lesser chance of being able to give a good life to a kid (and later adult) with a disability, even if we can and should be striving to one day make the world a place where all children get what they need to thrive. My own example of unlivable awfulness (which I would hope is the sort of thing she is actually referring to), is if someone knows that they are going to give birth to an infant who will suffer greatly and then die shortly after birth, I would never judge someone regardless of what choice they made under those circumstances, but I think it can be legitimately argued that such a scenario is substantially different from the scenario of knowing a child will be born with a condition such as the ones I mentioned above, there's a difference between arguing that anti-choice brainwashing is what makes someone happy with having a disabled child per se (or at least no less happy than they would be with having a non-disabled child), and arguing that anti-choice propaganda may be shaming some people who would otherwise choose to have an abortion in a scenario where they know they will be grieving the death of their wanted child either way.

I also wanted to comment on the comments, because reading them reminded me just how happy to lie to themselves and others anti-choicers are, one specific commenter wrote that the reason rational people are swayed by anti-choice billboards is because they are based in reality... so anti choice claims that the ability to think and/or feel pain are present at stages when they aren't are based in reality? Anti-choice claims that the fetus doesn't want you to have an abortion when I sometimes think, even though I have a happier life now, that it might have been better if my parents hadn't had kids, and there are many children who are born into lives of abuse and neglect because someone didn't want their mother/trans father to have an abortion and spare them hir abusive partner, or zie hirself is abusive, not to mention that there is no evidence that before a certain stage of pregnancy the fetus doesn't feel or think anything and therefore is incapable of caring if you have an abortion, are based in reality? Not to mention that pretty much anything I can think of that would give these kids born into horrific circumstances the best chance at a happier life, the majority of anti-choicers oppose. And furthermore, I object to the notion that a rational women/trans man must view hirself as an incubator first and an equal of others with the same legal and moral rights as them second, the woman/trans man's desire not to be pregnant and choice to have an abortion to protect themself is not irrational or wrong, just as the desire to be pregnant is not irrational or wrong, each individual makes different choices. The argument that women/trans men have to put themselves second because if they didn't want to have to undergo unwanted pregnancies they shouldn't have been sluts/been raped/been born with the ability to become pregnant, is not logical.

I am running off to a gig now (Death in Vegas), but I just wanted to comment on this.

[ 12-11-2011, 02:56 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

Posts: 840 | From: UK | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
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I find the linked post a bit upsetting.

I'm pro-choice. I also believe that there's room for discussion about anti-choice tactics around disability and birth defect issues. However, in my opinion, that post really does not make a useful contribution to that, for the reason that the author doesn't seem at all aware of the very tricky intersection of pro-choice and disability; and then, when people comment about that, she doesn't take it on board or consider it in any meaningful way, she simply carries on defending herself in the same way she did before. She makes a big point about her personal revelation about "pro-choice" meaning "choice of the individual pregnant person", but she shows no sign whatsoever of even beginning to grasp what the problem with the disability side of it is.

I hear her point about there being more background and that she had reason to be concerned that her friend had been influenced by anti-choice campaigning. Fair enough. But: there is a known and discussed tricky point at the meeting of pro-choice and disability justice, and to make a point about anti-choice tactics which centres around disability without any reference to this trickiness, or any apparent knowledge of the issues involved, or any apparent awareness of the nuance involved, is just... misguided. Writing about something you don't know about, and then not addressing or taking on board what people tell you about it, is just not good enough. It may just be very unfortunate that she doesn't know the background to the intersection and hasn't explained why this was a particular issue in this particular case, but overall, it reeks of the societal attitude "rather have an able-bodied person than a disabled one". She doesn't seem to register that she's apparently having this opinion without realising, or think to question it.

I totally own the fact that this kind of attitude is a raw point with me at the moment for personal reasons, but I believe that my opinions are still perfectly lucid. My experiences even help to inform my opinions. When a (disabled) person I love has been told by people whose business it really wasn't that it would've been better if they hadn't been born, or that they should've died, then yes, I think there's a very big problem with posts like this. I'm absolutely ok with someone questioning whether they want to continue a pregnancy, under any circumstances, and absolutely ok with a person who feels that they could not have a certain kind of child (though I'd be critical of society for making it harder and possibly making that decision more likely); but expressing shock that someone wouldn't consider a termination in the event of a foetus' disability or defect? That's not ok, ever.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Jill2000Plus
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...Someone actually told someone disabled that you know that they shouldn't have been born/should have died? That person needs more tact, and more empathy, and less prejudice.

I think one thing that is worth discussing is the way that anti-choice rhetoric can actually encourage ableism, because I know that when I was much younger, I would often say that I didn't want a kid with a learning disability, even saying mean things about them, but the thing is, while I was not without ignorance when it came to disability, I didn't hate those kids, I was just desperately looking for anything that I could that would allow me to avoid pregnancy, which was something I was terrified of (and still am). I'm not proud of those comments, but had I not been raised in a society that does not recognise that I am not obligated to become or remain pregnant EVER, I wouldn't have said those things. Now, I'm not saying that was the only cause of those comments, I was also raised by parents who put a lot of stock in the importance of intellect/I.Q./being intelligent/whatever you want to call the nonsensical concept that there is only one kind of intelligence and this can always be accurately measured, but ultimately I was trying to defend my right to ownership of my body more than anything else.

[ 12-15-2011, 03:39 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Jill2000Plus
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TRIGGER WARNINGS FOR ABLEIST PREJUDICE

Just to make myself clear, when I say I'm not proud of those comments, I mean that I wish I had never said those things, though I tended to say them to my mother who is prejudiced like that anyway (even if I was prejudiced about learning disabled kids, I didn't want to say things like that to their faces because I didn't want to hurt their feelings), that does not make the prejudice ok. I also think that the generalisations we make about people with disabilities relate to the assumption we make more generally that everyone, especially our kids, will/should be exactly like us: my mother said she didn't want a learning disabled kid because (paraphrasing) she wouldn't be able to have conversations with them about x/y/z, I remember as a child that she couldn't really accept the ways I was different from her - she got impatient whenever she couldn't move around a lot whereas I'm the sedentary type who likes to be indoors due to a mixture of preference and migraine causing weather sensitivities, and she'd constantly bug me about reading more even though I read far more than many other children my age, just because I also really liked watching TV... I think that some people who are very invested in their own intellectual superiority/classiness/ability to appreciate high culture/the finer things in life compared to others, project all their assumptions and prejudices about people who don't have what are assumed to be educated/intelligent/cultured tastes on to people who have learning disabilities in a concentrated form, assuming they are all the same and unjustly dismissing them if they happen to have what are assumed to be uneducated/stupid/uncultured tastes (I would also argue that perhaps people with disabilities are less likely on average (and I emphasise that "on average" part) to hide their "guilty pleasures" from others, I'm sure there are neurotypical people out there that love stuff like that but hide it so others will think better of them). I think this is particularly a middle class thing. Maybe I'm just talking out of my butt though.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Redskies
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I was reminded of this thread by something I came across. Jill, apologies, I meant to reply to you but somehow didn't. I don't think I have much to say about your last two posts, because I think you say it very well. And yes, someone really said that to a person with disabilities I know, and others have said more horrendous things which I'm probably not going to repeat here.

So, yet again ableism shows up in the mainstream reproductive rights movement, in a post on Reproductive Health Reality Check. (I'm not linking to it here, but it's linked in the following: massive Trigger Warning to anyone who wants to read the original, there's rampant ableism, and the "Note" that the author added to the top of the article is massively condescending and dismissive of anyone who is upset by it - After she'd been clearly told what the problems were. Also, the comments are, predictably, hideous.)

What I want to link to is this: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2012/08/21/lives-worth-living-disability-abortion-and-slipshod-ethics/#more-4850 It says pretty much everything I would want to say, and very well. I would co-sign the entire post, and cheer it. (I'm familiar with Tiger Beatdown, and while the blog contains some sweary language and tackles some tough issues, there's not the slightest _ism or hatey-ness, and even the comments are safe to read. I love this blog.)

The RH post makes me so angry. The author has no idea, and will not accept that she has no idea. And for the record, I, as a person-with-disabilities, would Not take treatment for mine if it was available, because from everything I know, my brain wouldn't be able to deal with the new messages and I would Lose some things that are very important to me; and I Don't wish I had never had a disability - sometimes/often I certainly wish that, but in context, the person I am is absolutely unentangleable from the experiences I've had - so wishing that I'd never had a disability would literally be wishing I was a different person, and I Don't wish that. Conversely, I Do wish I'd never had certain other experiences, and I'd gladly trade out the extra perspective they gave me for it. The author refuses to grasp that life experience with a disability can become inseparable from one's being as a person. She uses "suffer with a disability" without even considering what kind of world-view that assumes. Some disabled people certainly suffer, and would change it in a heartbeat; SOME, not ALL. She is so deeply embedded in ableism, in believing that disability is automatically "less-than", that she can't even see it.

I support all people's right to terminate their own pregnancy, for any reason. I have a huge amount of compassion for people who feel they have to terminate because they would be unable to cope with a condition the foetus has, or because the foetus would be immensely debilitated/in pain. I have a huge problem with a world that doesn't value less-than-perfect babies, with a world which doesn't provide adequate material and financial support for parents raising disabled children. Personally, if I wanted to parent, I want to parent a disabled kid (or a Deaf kid or an autistic one, etc, if they don't ID as disabled) just as much as I want to parent an able-bodied one; however, I am not capable of being another person's full-time carer for as long as we both lived. I cannot imagine agreeing to birth a child where that would be required of me. But I would want to be that child's parent so, so much, just not its full-time carer - and the prospect of ever having to make that decision horrifies me. It's wrong that anyone has to.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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