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.


A new proposal by a state senator seeks to make it criminal to abort a fetus on the basis of its disability or gender. Since women rarely abort in the United States on the basis of gender, it appears (as David Perry aptly stated), as if gender is simply a smokescreen for the real Trojan horse on the pro-life war on abortion: disability.

Fetuses with disabilities which can be detected in-utero such as Down syndrome, dwarfism, limb differences and spina bifida are regularly aborted. Women are encouraged to engage in pre-natal testing and to make a termination choice if/when their fetus is found to have a disability. I know that I was, when my daughter Moxie was discovered in-utero to have Down syndrome.

Choosing to terminate a pregnancy because the infant is found to have a disability is disturbing to both people with disabilities and those who feel that abortion is repugnant. As a person with a disability, I find the idea of aborting a baby because of their disability distressing, but as a mother it is comprehensible.

Our country is not kind to people with disabilities.

Access is far from equal. The disabled are on the lowest rungs of the social hierarchy. Health care is not standard nor is it free, and this, connected with government assistance means that people with disabilities must choose between a health care safety net and its resulting life of living below the poverty line, or risking it all and dying.

Education should be equal, with the passing of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, yet the actual implementation of the law is another story. Inclusion in schools and classrooms is often a battle, fought and lost. Children with disabilities, both visible and not, grow up with substandard educations. Added to that, they are most at risk to be physically, sexually, mentally and emotionally abused.

What mother, not knowing about or having access to communities of proud, educated, successful people with disabilities, would want her child to be subjected to what most people with disabilities in the United States are?

  Abortion, within that context, is understandable.

But banning abortion on the basis of disability to end the practice of selective abortion is akin to putting sticks in a river to change the course of its flow. It does not solve the problem.

And I don’t think the root of the problem here is abortion. It is the oppression of people with disabilities in the United States of America. It is the lack of equal access, education, employment and opportunities. It is the existence of healthcare and earning laws that keep us subject to a life lived in poverty.

 If a mother lived in a society that valued disability, she would be likely want to keep her child with a disability.

If she had no fear that her child would be abused, discriminated against and would face a life of suffering, chances are she would keep the child.

The problem of abortion used as a means to terminate fetuses found with disabilities is solvable by working to change the value of disability within our country. It is solvable by ensuring that education, employment and access are equal for all. It is solvable by employing universal design, by changing our health care system so that people with disabilities are not penalized for earning an income.

Senate Bill 334 begins with a noble premise: that all lives are valuable, that abortion on the basis of gender or the presence of a disability is not something that should happen. But the way in which it seeks to change this does not address the root of the problem. Indeed, should the root be addressed, it is doubtful that the bill would be relevant at all.

It's such a struggle to finish the letter to Kaiser. Each*and*every time I sit down to finish that letter, I start off with being horrified that it's taking me so long to finish it. Because each day that I don't finish it is a day that these two doctors might have been advising another scared, vulnerable and impressionable mother to abort her Moxie. 
I feel like crying.
And then I think about how I felt, being that scared, vulnerable and impressionable mother. I go back to that space of being so terrified of having a kid with Down syndrome, so full of grief and pain and hurt and anger. 
Then I am crying.
The letter means much to me. I want it to be strong. A mighty, invincible missive that will somehow don a cape and swipe away all the misery I felt then – and that others probably felt too. A letter that will stop those doctors in their tracks. Like Moxie's Birth Story though, it's likely to never be perfectly written. By me, anyway. But that's okay – it just needs to be written
I'm going to go and finish the letter. And leave you with Little Miss in her Improvised Hat of the Day (the gorgeous shirt from Aunties Audrey and Leslie – thank you!)
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