Sunday, September 09, 2007

One Tomato Two

Normally, it doesn't make me angry.

Normally, I don't even notice.

Today, I noticed.

Today, I got angry.

It's a common enough sight when grocery shopping, people pick over the fruits and vegetables looking for just the right tomato, just the right peach. We were going to try a new recipe for Fresh Tomato Pie and I was sitting with the flimsy store bag in my hand waiting for a woman to go through each and every tomato on the stand. She'd pick one up, examine it for even the slightest imperfection and, when found, her face would screw up like she'd stepped in poo and she'd toss it aside and then look for another. We waited a few minutes and then I told Joe to pick up the other items and I'd wait my turn.

And I did.


Saying nothing.

But I hated what I saw. The search for perfection. The tossing aside of a perfectly good tomato because of the slightest flaw. "This," I thought, "is the problem."

You see this morning I was reading the paper, it was a beautiful sunny day - perfect for lounging about and catching up on the news. Then I read an article about an Italian mother who, carrying twins, was informed that one of the twins had Down Syndrome. She asked for the one with the extra gene to be aborted and the other, the normal perfect one, to be kept safe. During that abortion the wrong baby was left behind. The typical kid was aborted and the wrong baby, the baby with Down Syndrome grew on. Devastated at the tragic loss of the 'right' baby it was decided that the 'wrong' baby would now be terminated.

In all the discussion of this, the tragedy of the loss of the normal child is emphasized. The kid with Down Syndrome, the disposable, flushable, abortable baby - well, it's survival of the first attempt on it's life, that was a tragedy. Now the family is looking at all sorts of law suits because of their pain and suffering. They mourn the loss of the baby they wanted. The right and good heir.

Well as far as I'm concerned, that kid with Down Sydrome, was the 'right' baby.

Unfortunate to be given the wrong family.


Unknown said...

Amen!! I was appalled when I read that article.

Anonymous said...

Every child, every person is perfect. Too bad the parents won't get the chance to figure that out.


Kei said...

I hugged my little boy a little tighter when I read that article on my Down syndrome board. There is nothing imperfect or wrong with him. I see the scars from his heart surgeries and cherish them~ they represent life.

Sad that so many in society see Down syndrome as an abnormality that must be wiped out, tossed aside.

Jeff said...

This is one subject that makes me nuts. I am not going to dwell but will in my own upcoming post but I will ask this question.

If here in the US we are equally divided on abortion 50/50 then why is the termination rate of positive prenatal tests for Down Down syndrome at 90%? Are the only people having the tests far left liberals? I think not.


Unknown said...

the article is there, also with a poem written by one of 'our mom's'

it's HORRIBLE, but unfortunately not the first time ive seen such atrocities

Picking and choosing the 'perfect race' of something that the WORLD went crazy about back in the 1940's...

And yet's almost PC.

Our biggest concerns lay with the physicians delivering the news of the disorder. It is common practice among them to tell the parents of the duplication of the 21st chromosome, and then schedule the D&C.

The Parents don't even get a chance to THINK, and all of us that have got the diagnosis need a little time to digest it. You need need to talk to someone that's 'Been there'

Yet we are not even given that chance.

We just keep trying...

Anonymous said...

How tragic, to treat human life just like a commodity to be disposed of if it is slightly "imperfect". Those poor wee children - at least now they are together in peace.

Anonymous said...

I'm really upset, I tried to follow e's myspace blog and found something else instead

Are we in a minority that sees the value of human life regardless of their disability? I sometimes think so/

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

Dave --

Off topic, but did you see today's Parade Magazine article "How Can We Help Our Nation's Caregivers?" by Gail Sheehy at (I think Parade magazine might be a US thing not Canadian, but at least it's on line).

One of the things that caught my attention in this article was that, apparently, when a patient comes out of the hospital, if a decision has to be made whether to put them in "long term care" in a nursing home, usually pretty much forever, versus being indepedent, then one of the things that determines that decision is how many steps the patient is able to take. If they have the strength for taking 12 steps then they can live independently with their caregiver (loved one). If not, then they are "warehoused" in a nursing home and their case is often not reviewed again.

Why such barbaric, out-moded practices? How exactly is a patient who can only manage 11 steps necessarily so different from a patient who manages 13?

This line of thinking was not even challenged in this article. I guess that's some of what has me upset by it. The author merely celebrates that her husband was able -- after practice -- to achieve 30 steps. Okay, great, I'm glad he did those 30 steps. And I'm glad for his stake that he escaped the fate of the nursing home. But what about all the others who didn't make it? Why don't they get more of a chance too? And why did Gaily Sheehy fail to raise that question?

Any thoughts on this? (Okay, yes, why did I bother to ask, of COURSE you do and I can even guess what they are ... I guess I'm looking to hear the finer nuances of them.)

Also: I tend to feel mixed when I see articles devoted to caregivers. One part of me is glad to see them get attention becuase I realize they often don't get enough. The trouble is, sometimes they get attention at the expense of care RECIPIENTS whose rights, not just to care, but to CHOICE are so often denied and ignored. This leaves me confused about how to react or respond when I see articles like this one. In a sense you've seen things from multiple sides -- someone who has worked in institutions (though not specifically nursing homes, or am I mistaken?) and then worked to close them down, someone who has worked *with* caregivers on behalf of their loved ones, who has worked with care *recipients* for their rights, and someone who receives a certain level of assistance from time to time from your "other half" Joe. So I'd welcome your insights on this.

Anonymous said...

as a side-note: this is why i'm not sure i could ever call myself a feminist.. i'm definitely for women having control of their own bodies but it's hard to be pro-choice when disabled people are the first in line to be aborted or euthanized.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...


Now, I'm no expert in feminist theory. But my understanding of feminism is that, at its most basic, it just means standing up for equality of opportunity and justice for both women and men. I realize that *traditionally* this has ALSO been associated with being "pro-choice," but I don't see that as a necessary pre-condition of being a feminist. There are feminists who are anti-abortion, just like there are Catholics who are pro-choice. (Blogging on disability and poverty in developing countries) (Blogging on the ADA Restoration Act and other topics)

Ettina said...

As someone who examines fruit for the slightest imperfection and discards any imperfect ones, I find your analogy offensive. I act that way with fruit due to sensory issues and OCD tendencies, but am very accepting of human variety. I do not see disabled people as 'imperfect' in any way. This reminds me of a magazine which compared this one man's dislike of different foods touching each other on his plate to his white separatist views. I found that similarly offensive because I hate having different foods touching each other on the plate, unless they are thoroughly mixed together and are a combination I like mixed together, while having racially diverse friends and often impressing people with my interest in learning many different languages. In fact, I'm planning to take Cree in university.
Do not equate pickiness about food with discriminatory attitudes!

Kev said...

On the subject of feminism in this context, there are many many feminists, myself included, who believe strongly in a woman's right to choose, but who recognise that choices are not made in a vacuum. The root of the problem is not with individual women, who are making the choices they feel are best given the sexist, disablist society they live in, and the options it gives them. Let me put it this way: if we lived in a society which truly placed equal value on the lives of disabled people, and offered real support to families according the needs they had, how many women do you think would choose to abort a wanted baby, regardless of disability? My guess would be very few indeed. It's society which needs to change. Drastically.

Ettina said...

But people's actions aren't just influenced by society, they also influence society. If you choose to buck the system, that will affect society in some way. Probably only a small effect, but if enough people do that it can have a big effect. And you can affect individual people and they will further affect society. Society is not separate from people.