In a recent viral story, a woman who had a late term abortion talks about why it made sense to her to abort her baby (the links are at the bottom of this post).
It seemed to me to be an uninformed choice being passed off as a kind, sound decision, and that rubbed me wrong.
You see, the mother talks like termination was unquestionably the best option, because the child would be born with spina bifida.
She references what the doctors told her as her proof – they said it, so of course it must be true!
She didn’t do her research.
She did not meet anyone with spina bifida, she didn’t look into the quality of life of someone who has spina bifida. She just rolled with what the doctors said and had a late term abortion. She then went and wrote pieces about why that late term abortion was a good idea, but still never citing any up to date, accurate information about living with spina bifida!
This hits home for me, obviously.
Many parents will and do abort babies who are discovered in-utero to be deaf – if more parents could figure out before birth that their child is coming with hearing loss, they would undoubtably abort.
Added to that, my daughter’s Down syndrome tribe is dwindling because of the abortion rates. This, despite enormous advances in health, education, and quality of life.
Now, I can’t say that I’m pro-abortion – I’m not.
But I do believe that a woman should have the right to choose. I don’t think abortion should be made illegal for any reason, even in the case of disability. In other words, I don’t want disability to be used to make abortion illegal in the United States. I don’t think that’s the recipe for happiness.
Rather, I think striving to eliminate ableism is what we need to be doing: remove the prejudice and fear that people have about disability, strengthen our social supports and you remove a lot of the reasons why people abort babies with disabilities.
Take this mom for example: if she had known people with spina bifida, had inclusive classes growing up with people with disabilities, had disabled co-workers, participated in a culture that included people with disabilities, then being pregnant with a child with a disability would not have been such a big deal. Disability would have been recognized by her as a natural and normal part of the human experience.
There is no getting away from disability
And this is the thing: we’re all going to be touched by disability in some way, shape or form in the course of our lives.
Either we’re going to become disabled ourselves or we are going to acquire a disability (or two) along the way. If this doesn’t happen, then you better believe that someone we love will – our child, spouse, lover, mother, father, sister, aunt, or brother will. Or cousin Joey.
I mean, it’s just impossible to NOT have the presence of disability in your life in some way, so the sooner we as a culture can learn to embrace and include it, the sooner we’re all going to make life a lot easier for ourselves.
Once we’re on even ground with disability in and of itself, then it’s easier to ask: should you get an abortion? Remove ableism from the picture and it becomes a lot more clear.
Meriah Nichols is a career counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one gifted 2E). Deaf, with C-PTSD and TBI, she’s also a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.