I have written an essay about disability for my end-of-term submission, and I've repeatedly come across versions of this statement in the reference literature:
"To decide to terminate a pregnancy if you find out the foetus is likely to be disabled is to tell the disabled people of the world that you wish they did not exist."
To be able to grasp this statement in its entirety, one first needs to wade through the abortion debate. If one agrees that abortion is a right that should be awarded to willing candidates, one needs to think what criteria should determine when abortion is ok. Who decides whether it is better not to carry a particular pregnancy to full term? When does "the gift of life" become the "curse of life" for the child or the mother, and who is to determine the fine line between a gift and a curse?
A parallel question is: what is disability? Is there a sharp line between the disabled and the able, or is it a continuum, for example from the school football star to the kid who needs to rest after half an hour of exercise, to the kid who is excused from sports because of a weak heart, to the kid with polio in one leg, to the kid in a wheelchair?
If one passes through these discussions, the next question is: does aborting a disabled foetus mean you are not sympathetic to the disabled and you do not admire their positive attitude to life? I am not sure this is quite true. On the other hand, if I hear someone say "I'd rather die than be fat", it hurts me immensely as a fat person. Further along the continuum of disability, the earnest desire of people to be unlike you definitely causes more severe psychological damage.
Some would say this is not an issue to be discussed theoretically. I would say "What would YOU do if you discovered that your unborn child was likely to be disabled, however you choose to define that term?"
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