Category Archives: Disability Rights

Abortion and Disability

(h/t @stfumisogynists)

The Telegraph today published a letter from anti-choice groups which argued that in the wake of the Paralympics, abortion laws should be tightened and the freedom of people to decide the fates of their own bodies reduced.

Putting aside the allegation (which I haven’t personally checked) that not a single signatory to the letter was from an actual, y’know, group representing disabled people, it seems pretty clear that the religious are happy to shoe-horn anything into their rhetorics if they think it will advance their cause.

But pro-choicers, such as myself, need to be careful on this topic ourselves. Talking about this issue can very easily fall onto the question over whether people should or should not get abortions, rather than whether they can or cannot. Anybody saying that living with a disabled child is too stressful for parents (and hence that pregnant women should abort foetuses which would be) is just as bigoted as denying abortion rights to women on the grounds of your own low redefinition of life.

s. e. Smith, a month ago, hit this on the head – far better than I ever could. It’s so easy not to be a total arsehole. Living with the crazy idea that other people are actually fucking people, rather than pawns in your own political narrative, is one that comes so easily when you actually give it a try.

The question is not whether people should abort a foetus which presents symptoms of future disability, but whether people have the right to choose to abort, for their own reasons, or not abort, equally for their own reasons. Take it away s. e. Smith:

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.

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Filed under Abortion, Disability Rights, Ethics, Politics