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?
Well first off, we could stop pressuring pregnant people with disabled fetuses to abort… This is a huge problem and abortion is usually the go to for “bad” test results (aka the child might be disabled). We also need to stress the inaccuracy of the tests. They may have become more accurate lately, but I know growing up I had a friend who’s mom was told for four of her pregnancies that the children would be disabled, and after born, wasn’t. We can stop scaring people by encouraging the use of the word disabled, that is isn’t bad. We need to connect them with real people who have these conditions so they can know that our lives are worth living. Basically take all the ableism out of medicine and actually give people the real facts and experiences of what its like to be disabled. We make the world more accessible, then people don’t become as scared of having a disabled child. I honestly think this all boils down to awareness, acceptance, and ableism. We focus on those, then eugenics doesn’t become as much of an issue. I’m sorry if this didn’t make much sense, I have a migraine and am having trouble explaining what I mean. If someone could expand on this for me? I know there was a really great post going around not too long ago about this subject.
Thank you for your reply! I absolutely agree with everything you said and you said it just fine so please don’t apologize. I hope you’re feeling better!
People who learn about fetal disability should not be pressured to abort in any way, no one should be when they become pregnant. Pressuring anyone towards any particular option removes the element of choice. I think we absolutely need to work on eliminating the stigma that revolves around disability. People fear what they don’t understand, so if we can help people to understand disabiliies and know that people with them still lead fantastic lives, we’ll certainly see a drop in abortions. Like you said, if we make the world more accessible to disabled people and their families, people won’t be scared for their futures.
You said exactly everything I was thinking, and I’m really sorry that that didn’t come across in my initial response. I’ll definitely work on my wording in the future.
I think the only real issue we had with your response was focusing on how disability effects the family rather than the disabled child/person. Just change to focus on the actual disabled people and then your response would be better. And all this stuff can happen without making laws restricting abortions since its along ending stigma rather than restricting access so its completely pro choice as well. Thanks for being so understanding and listening to our concerns about this very sensitive subject.
Uh, yea she listened, but didn’t take any of the horrendously offensive stuff back. It absolutely is eugenics to abort a baby with a disability that isn’t life-threatening, and YES, we absolutely can judge/shame/callout people for their bigotry. Yes, everyone deserves education but (brace yourself) that’s not how it is. Education can fix all kinds of bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, etc., but we can’t give violent transphobes a pass until they’re educated. Do people who murder trans and queer people get a pass if they weren’t TOLD in sex ed that trans people are normal human beings? Do men who use misogynist slurs get a pass if their parents never taught them that women are their equals? No. Their environment may have caused their bigotry, but it is bigotry JUST THE SAME. When a pregnant person expresses interest in aborting a disabled fetus we can and should call out that bigotry. Another good parallel is to look at sex-selective abortions, sometimes called femicide. It’s well publicized in the US that this is rampant in Asia, but the fact is it’s rampant worldwide. Many families’ beliefs align with a cultural or religious doctrine holding that women are inferior, and others simply abort girls because they know how hard life is for a girl in a culture like that. No matter what their reason is, the result is the same- growing populations of men who enforce the misogynist status quo. Make sure you’re familiar with the social model of disability. Disability is created and maintained by the abled majority. It’s not something you can be born with. Abled people are our oppressors and murderers. Aborting a fetus due to fear of disability is actively oppressing the disabled. All acts of oppression need to be called out for what they are. @prochoice-or-gtfo ‘s original answer is still 100% jacked the hell up. Being pregnant doesn’t excuse disgustingly unethical behavior. And yea, that rant about how difficult it is to have a disabled kid: that was incredibly ableist bullshit. Working with disabled people didn’t seem to teach you much. I can’t stress enough how gross literally everything in your original answer is. It’s fucking gross. Every bit of it. I appreciate that you later admitted this is something you need to “reconcile” with, but I need you to understand that every word your original post is dehumanizing disabled people in the eyes of anyone who reads it.
Look, there’s nothing to reconcile. Stop thinking of us as subhuman. Stop thinking of us as a burden to others. It is wrong to abort a fetus because it is disabled. It is bigotry, just like aborting a fetus because you think it’s a girl. You can be pro-choice AND see disabled people as people. If you look at bills proposed to combat abortions based on race, sex, and disability, it becomes very obvious that their author’s primary goal is not to decrease prejudiced abortion decisions, but to limit a woman’s access to abortion. The bills prohibiting abortion based on race are especially camouflaged. They spout about the stats showing black and brown babies are the most likely to be aborted without mentioning that the cause of those high numbers is poverty. They promote the bills as fighting discrimination but black congresswomen and pro-choice groups say that their real purpose is to make it harder for racial minorities to get abortions. Even if we had a perfectly worded law to prohibit discriminatory abortions, there are huge problems. It would create a giant loophole to be taken advantage of by doctors and facilities who are trying to deny women abortions. It could create fear of repercussions for abortion doctors who abort fetuses from marginalized groups. Fear of repercussion should not be part of a doctor’s medical determinations. And lastly, remember how I said it’s well-publicized in the US that sex-selective abortions are popular in Asia? It’s become “common knowledge” here, despite the fact that there are multiple countries with white majorities with higher rates of sex-selective abortion. In states with sex-selective abortion bans, Asian and Indian women are disproportionately denied abortions. They can legally deny those women abortions when it is a girl, and they do. This is obviously discrimination against women of Asian and Indian ethnicity and/or origin, regardless of whether it happens because the doctor willfully subscribes to those stereotypes or if he believes them subconsciously and is taking paranoid steps to protect himself from the law. My opinion is that if there were a similar law on the abortion of disabled fetuses, we would see these same toxic effects. So, you can start rinsing your mind of all those nasty ableist justifications. There’s plenty of evidence showing that the freedom for women to choose is beneficial for our country and for women globally. We can admit that it is discriminatory, bigoted, and hateful to abort a fetus because it could be disabled, and still ferociously fight against lawmaker’s attempts to restrict abortion and suppress choice.