Do you think mothers should abort babies with disabilities?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Shock and dismay at insensitivity
Well, I am in the process of finishing up some research I have been doing about social constructions of disability. I surveyed church leaders, then I surveyed church attenders (both articles published in the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health). The final study I wanted to do (and will do, I might add) is a survey of adults with intellectual disabilities. I am asking them questions about a variety of social constructions such as whether they are angels, or heroes, or if they have a good quality of life. However, while having my survey reviewed, the process came to a screaming halt over a question deemed insensitive and inappropriate. What might that insensitive question be? The question that I plan to ask adults with intellectual disabilities is...
The reason why this is insensitive? I might cause them mental distress, or they might cry, among others. Another raised the issue of a research literature on this question. Do you really think that secular academia is in any way interested in the answer of disabled adults to this question? Do you really think it has been asked dozens of times before?
I related that statistics indicate that 90% of mothers who are prenatally diagnosed as carrying a child with down's syndrome abort, which was greeted with disbelief..."That can't be true"! I could have gone into neural tube defects, and the looming dangers growing out of the human genome project. The threat is true, and as Wolfensberger describes, we are in the midst of a new genocide. But if your group is being systematically identified for death and then are killed, it is insensitive of me to ask whether you think that is wrong because that might upset you. Damn it! I hope it upsets you, and I hope your voice of being upset will be heard so that it will stop! And stop NOW!
But people don't get it. They think adults are children. They think they don't care about such issues. I feel like the chauvinistic man who pats the woman on the cheek and says "Don't you worry your pretty little head about these man issues." Disabled person, they want me to pat you on the head while people who are like you are being exterminated. They want me to tell you, "Don't you worry your poor, little head about the countless innocents who are murdered because of social constructions." But I won't do it. What I will do although it is in a very very small way, is I will try to dispel the myths that support those horrible acts and do what I can to give you a voice, however small, however insignificant that voice may be. I don't know how those with intellectual disabilities will respond to such a question, but they will have the opportunity to respond.
My friends with intellectual disabilities, may God give me the ability to give you voice, though it be a whisper, and if it upsets you and makes you cry, that just proves that you are a normal human being because there are many of us who are upset, and cry with you.