Sunday Roundup: Disability Rights and Reproductive Rights – Two Core Premises

On Friday I wrote my second piece for Reproductive Health Reality Check about fighting the divide and conquer attempts to sever the disability rights movement and the pro-choice movement. I offer two core premises that I want to make sure you don’t miss.

I believe the solution lies in an intersectional approach based on each community acknowledging the genuine concerns of the other. Disability activists must make explicit their support for the right of women to choose to terminate a pregnancy based on a prenatal diagnosis of a genetic disability. Pro-choice activists must similarly acknowledge that expressing concern about prenatal testing—such as arguing against the ableist and eugenic ideologies frequently associated with the procedure—does not inherently yield ground to those fighting against reproductive rights. I have spoken to many disability advocates who believe that any discussion of their trepidations will be met with anger from pro-choice activists. That’s the divide that anti-choice lawmakers intend to exploit. Don’t let them.

So, to recap.

1. Disability rights activists have to do the hard work of saying – it’s ok to have a disability-selection abortion. That is very difficult for many people to do. No coalition is possible, though, if we don’t make clear that being pro-choice means being pro-choice, no caveats.

2. Then pro-choice activists have to do the hard work of saying that disability-selection abortions are based on eugenic principles. That is very difficult for many people do, as well. No coalition is possible, though, if we don’t make clear that a future in people with genetic disabilities are selectively filtered from the population en masse is not the future we want. Indeed, people in the disability community see it as akin to genocide.

Accepting, owning, these two premises is not easy. And once you own them, the really hard work of fleshing out the details matter.

Note – A friend of mine who is a historian of eugenics would like me (and y’all) to distinguish between eugenics as a state-sponsored set of programs and “eugenic principles” which individuals apply to their own decision-making.

And now my roundup.

Three published pieces this week, including the RHRC piece linked to above. I had a piece in the New York Times on parenting children with disabilities and microaggressions.  I had a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the need to include a campaign for adjunct justice in the discussion on “Free Community College.”

I blogged about:

  • The need for pockets in girl clothes. Fight the pocket patriarchy!
  • Trials of police who killed civilians.
  • A followup piece on my NYT essay on the gender divisions of shame. Men and women get shamed differently, though neither is “easier,” I think.
  • Finally, January 12 was the two-year anniversary of the police killing of Ethan Saylor. Lots of good things have happened since then, but there’s been no justice for Ethan. The men who crushed his trachea stay on duty.
Next week I probably have an essay or two coming out, but will try to be disciplined and not pitch anything new, unless there’s a national crisis. I need to work on my Big Secret Project.

2 Replies to “Sunday Roundup: Disability Rights and Reproductive Rights – Two Core Premises”

  1. Mark Leach says:

    I have a piece waiting to be written about how the distinction between eugenics and eugenic principles breaks down where there is state funding of prenatal testing with cost-effectiveness analysis done by the state to justify the expenditure by the number of lives with Down syndrome "prevented." See California and many Western European countries. Need time, funding for that time!

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