Disability Justice is a Reproductive Justice Issue

Cross-posted at Not Your Average Feminist and Dear Planned Parenthood,

Disability Justice

I can not tell you how excited I am by the response to cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. It feels like a movement for the first time in a long time, at least for me personally. I also feel so incredibly empowered by the huge amount of support for the “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” campaign, but at the same time, I’m forced to check my privilege.

With advances in genetic testing, there is a growing debate about disability and abortion. Often time the question becomes whether or not “this child will be better off not being born than suffering through life with a disability.” I recently learned about some failed legislation that would have banned abortion if the woman was basing her decision on the fetus’ race, sex, or ability. Limiting choice is NOT the solution. Rather the solution is to reteach what we value as a society.

The fact that the biggest campaign for Planned Parenthood right uses ableist language isn’t nearly as concerning as those who are not even in the conversation. My movement is more than the pro-choice/pro-life debate…I’m talking about Access to equal and affordable health care, Sovereignty to be in and make decisions for our own bodies, and Liberation for all those who have been silenced or made invisible because we don’t fit nicely into “normal.”

I mean, that’s just how I’m feeling today…How do you feel about it?

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  • jss

    I respectfully disagree with you about ability and abortion. There are a few exceptional medical cases where people argue the child is “better off not being born”, but those are cases when the child would die a slow, painful death within a year or two of being born.

    The argument is that the child’s abilities play a part in determining whether a parent is ready to raise that child. For example, even if society valued deaf and hearing people equally, that wouldn’t mean that a hearing woman who didn’t know sign language would suddenly be able to handle parenting a deaf child. I think everyone should have the right to choose what they take on as parents; if a pregnant woman isn’t ready and willing to raise a child, she should have safe access to an abortion. Allowing women to take a child’s potential abilities into account has nothing to do with valuing existing people based on their abilities, and everything to do with giving people the choices they need to be good parents.