A Danish newspaper published a survey today stating that two-thirds of the people questioned support the right to an abortion because of disability in the unborn child. As usual they only mention how many were asked (1002), but not how they were asked or what the exact question was. That leaves us in the dark as to what type of abortion and what type of disability – if any – was mentioned. I know well enough what these things mean when it comes to skewing a survey, that is, they never can stand alone as a measure of anything because of the bias any type of questioning presents.
However, two-thirds of the population of a country that praises itself on being somewhat enlightened (I seriously have my doubts; having to live here every single day)…
I don’t think that most people will really get what I am saying here. Even the majority of my readers will be unable to fathom it. So I have devised a simple exercise for those of you who dare. I want you to go out into a public place where a lot of people are gathered, doesn’t matter where it is as long as you can see a bunch of people. Then you start looking at them individually while thinking about how only every third of them wants you alive. After a while you start the old counting trick… dead, dead, alive, dead, dead alive… etc.
Do you get it now? Two out of three of all the people surrounding me would rather see me gone. I know that a lot of the people I know will protest demonstratively, saying something to this extent: “It’s not you. You live a good life. Nobody would ever do such a thing to you.” And my only reply to that is: “Yes, but only because I didn’t end up as a pile of biological waste next to an operating table in the first place.”
I have no doubts that abortion of disabled fetuses is the ultimate form of discrimination. It is ableism at its worst. Abortion of disabled fetuses is not only performed regularly it is also encouraged by the hospitals. And for once I will suppress my cynical view of doctors who just want to make money or perform research on all kinds of unnecessary things. Doctors are the staunchest proponents of ableism. According to some sources 90% of people with my disability are never being born in Britain.
To most doctors ‘perfection of the human body’ is somewhat of a fundamentalist religion. We, the disabled, are the anti-Christ of that particular religion. We thumb our nose at them by our mere existence. We are living proof that the idea of perfect people in a perfect world is nothing but a pipe dream. So what better solution than to get rid of us before we are really deemed human beings? Out of sight, out of mind.
Deep down I am pro-choice when it comes to woman and childbirth. I have no problem with women making a decision about how they want to live their life. I also know that we can’t just stop medical technology even if it is the real culprit here. It is not the pre-natal screenings that are to blame for this. It is the idea behind them. They obviously rest on a philosophical platform that sees disability as a tragic life event for both the parent(s) and the unborn child.
I am absolutely certain that my mom would not have been able to stand up to the pressure of a doctor telling her that I would have been better off dead. She never questioned their assurances that all the surgeries that I underwent as a child would make my life better. Needless to say, they only made matters worse. They were nothing but experimental exercises, trying to mechanically change the way my muscles, tendons and bones worked. Now it is well-known medical knowledge that these sorts of surgeries only decrease function. The time spent in a cast ruins more than the surgery will ever be able to accomplish. But back then, they didn’t know.
And my parents never stopped to think and see that I only got worse with each surgery. Like most parents today they trusted the doctors. Doctors might not have quite the same status as they did in times past. But they are (supposed to be) the ultimate authority when it comes to our health and our bodies. So it is no wonder that so many parents opt out of having a child with a disability when they are told of all the terrible things that comes with having such a baby.
So what are these terrible things? Is it the impairment that we have to live with? Is it the lack of membership of the ‘bipedal society’? Is it the way we appear differently to others? Is it the mental capacity of living with Down’s syndrome? To me the answers to all of these are a sounding NO!
What is terrible is the normative understanding of what ‘the good life’ is. It is the outright discrimination as well as the subtle understanding that disabled are sub-humans. The eugenic doctors telling our parents that our lives are not worth living, the stranger coming up and feeling sorry for me because my life presumably must be so much worse than his (for some reason it is usually men doing this – pathetic men at that, men with whom I would never swap life circumstances), the mothers whispering to their children a little too loudly in the supermarket “yes, I also feel sorry for him”.
All the people who make the assumption that I live a terrible life are what is terrible about my life.
It is the very definition of tautology at work here. My life must be tragic because everyone assumes my life is tragic. They can all see how tragic it is and therefore it is so. And I must admit it would be absolutely horrific if I fell for the thinking that two out of three people in Denmark subscribe to. But I don’t…
I am an intelligent human being who is able to go against the social consciousness that surrounds me. I have the guts to have independent thoughts and to be a rebel (at least a minor one) and tell the majority that they are fundamentally wrong – not flawed, that I leave to myself and those like me (some of us like to be ‘flawed’ and not fit in)
Like we said in my youth on the subject ‘truth of the majority’: Eat shit, 1.000.000.000 flies can’t be wrong.