I will always support a pregnant person’s right to choose what they want to do with their bodies. When it comes to fetuses that would be born with disabilities, I can understand why a parent would want an abortion. Many people know they cannot handle a child with a disability. As sad as it is, it’s not the fault of the pregnant person for knowing their own limits. It’s society’s fault for not making accommodations for people with disabilities. We live in an inherently ableist society where it is much harder to live if you’re disabled vs. able bodied. If you want to end abortions due to disabilities, make society more accessible to people with them.
Like Kyoung said, our society is intrinsically ableist and makes all of us ableist along with it to varying degrees. When people consider abortion because they want a “perfect” child, that’s a place where more education about the humanity and value of all people is absolutely necessary. When someone considers an abortion because they can’t financially afford a disabled child, that’s something we need to examine society for. Yes, all children are expensive, but some disabilities can be unaffordable for people in certain income brackets. There’s also the emotional toll it can take that some people know they won’t be able to handle.
Every year, so many disabled people are turned over to the care of the government because their families cannot care for them properly for a variety of reasons. Some people are left at homeless shelters because they’ll get better care there. A young man I used to work with directly was turned over to the care of the government when he turned 18 because the benefits his family received from the government to assist with his care stopped, and his family simply couldn’t afford to pay for the treatment and living situation that he needed to be safe. He was safer away from them, and they had to give up their son to do that. I used to work with disabled clients living in group homes who you could see the signs of abuse on. Not everyone is emotionally capable of subjecting a child to a life like that.
It’s easy to just point the finger and scream ableism, and yes, ableism is a huge factor in why many disabled fetuses are aborted, but it’s not so black and white as being the pregnant person’s “fault.”
The issue I have with this response is that the entire thing is focused on how horrible it’s all going to be for the people around the disabled person. I don’t know the people who wrote this response and I don’t know if you’re able bodied or what, but I really am rubbed the wrong way by this. You start by saying that society is intrinsically ableist and then go on and feed into it. The disabled exist beyond being an inconvenience, we are real life people with thoughts, feelings, ideas, hobbies, likes, dislikes, rights. We are not just a problem and it’s disgusting, especially coming from a pro choice blog, to hear all this. I have always felt that if you decide to become a parent and you are taking the pregnancy to term, disability is one of the things that comes in the “fine print” of that. I don’t know how it isn’t eugenics to abort a fetus just because they might be disabled. “Not everyone is emotionally capable of subjecting a child to a life like that.” PLEASE tell me I am reading this wrong. PLEASE. “Subjecting a child to a life like that” that is why mothers will murder their disabled children and get off scott free, because people act like they’ve done them a favor. All those years of being dehumanized to the point where we were (AND ARE STILL BEING) murdered, forcibly sterilized, legally underpaid, forced into and then kept in poverty, kept from marriage, kept from voting, forcibly institutionalized, I could go on and on and on and on. 50% of all police killings in the US are enacted against the disabled. People with disabled children definitely do need more resources, but it’s mostly because the DISABLED need more resources. We didn’t even obtain actual legal rights (which aren’t substantial in any way, and even then are still not followed because the legal repercussions are almost hardly carried out and because honestly people couldn’t give half a fuck) until 1990!!!!!! 1990!!!!!!!!!!! The disabled literally dragged themselves up the steps of Capitol Hill, trying to be as in the way and un ignorable as possible, with people literally stepping over them, just to get basic human rights. There’s just so so much involved and I think your answer wasn’t the best, nothing personal. I love the rest of your blog but I feel so off about this
I forgot to add that basically, I think that we have a right to be worried about eugenics and about sneakier forms of eugenics, if that makes sense?
The “I worked with disabled people” points me towards assuming they’re abled because that excuse is always the biggest for ables to brush off their ableism. “I *worked* with them. *I* know.” When in reality they don’t know shit because they don’t live it. I agree with everything fogblogger said.
Thank you to @fogblogger for taking the time to write all that out, it was a really good read. To answer the question, I do not consider myself disabled, though I am mentally ill. The question of what to do in cases of fetal disability diagnosis is an incredibly difficult one to answer and I am still struggling with how best to address concerns about it. As someone who is pro-choice, I will never be comfortable with placing limits on who is allowed to abort and for what reasons, but at the same time, I recognize the ableism that is inherent in choosing to abort a fetus for the reason of disability.
If it’s not too much trouble to ask, could either of the people who reblogged this post give their advice on how to address this issue from a pro-choice perspective? I would really like to be able to reconcile being pro-choice with also combatting ableism, but I am obviously not there yet. Do either of you have any suggestions on how to better answer questions like this while still supporting people’s right to choose?
I am a physically disabled retired midwife with precarious bipolar disorder… am also a pro-choice (work at Planned Parenthood for a time), non-TERF feminist mother and grandmother. Not only have I had clients and been with friends who have made the choice (and it IS a choice) to terminate a child with physical anomalies, but my own (Christian) daughter terminated a baby with Trisomy 13 or 18 and anencephaly at 23 weeks.
I can see the disabled viewpoint of terminations for anomalies seeming able-ist, but as I am also disabled and do not feel like I am a burden, I also know the stories of terminations go far, FAR beyond it being an “inconvenience” to make the choice of abortion.
Taking into account the baby’s experience, not the way we have discussed here… that they are seen as a burden and oh-how-sad-a-life-they-must-be-having… but that their lives might be filled with multiple surgeries and unending pain. This is what drives a lot of the people I have been with into choosing termination over continuing the pregnancy. Even a baby with Down Syndrome can be looking at multiple heart surgeries, but I will agree, the majority of DS babies aborted lean more on the able-ist viewpoint… at least from our vantage point. From within the minds of the parents, the debate is intense and difficult.
Our sitting out here judging is so unfair and not something *we* would want if *we* were the ones making the… *A*… decision… *any* decision (pick one).
I hope this helps a little coming from a physically and mentally disabled person who has worked in birth for 32 years and seen the plethora of situations many of us could never fathom.
I agree completely with you, I wasn’t able to articulate it and you did it beautifully. I think that’s a great way to address it, personally. I feel it’s an individual decision, case by case, but the idea that you are just supposed to abort a fetus who isn’t traditionally healthy I feel is ableist. Someone responded with a statistic about how high the abortion rate for fetuses with down syndrome became after the test for it was discovered, despite the fact that so, so many people out there live with DS and have a great, full life. I think it’s like all abortions (and births, honestly just baby-ing or almost baby-ing in general): it needs to not be taken lightly and it needs to be taken into account the pain and suffering of not only you but your possible child. The issue with that is most people don’t have a good understanding of disability or living disabled (the media doesn’t like us, lol, and if we’re in something we’re either cured or killed, we don’t get lives) and see it as the worst possible thing, when it generally isn’t, so they make their decisions on skewed ideas. I really, truly think it’s just an education issue, but a really, really damn huge one. It’s dangerous, it really is, especially if you’re a POC who’s disabled or in the position of having a disabled child and knowing your own personal experiences. POC don’t even get the stick enough to get the shirt end of ableism, which is hard to imagine and disgusting and horrible, because the bar is so so low just generally. I really appreciate the OP for responding to me kindly because oh man some people are the worst and I was a little scared, haha. Not that you seem like rude people, obviously. It’s a really complex issue and I don’t know if there’s a straightforward answer at this point in time. 💜