Saturday, June 15, 2013

By George

I follow George Stroumboulopoulos' Facebook page as I think he posts some of the most interestingly 'talkable' stuff. He recently posted about 'right to die' legislation in Quebec. He has an active group of followers and the discussion is quite lively. I wanted to add in so I wrote:

People need to learn the difference between disease and disability. The disability movement is VERY concerned about this. I am a wheelchair user. I work. I love. I have sex. I enjoy my life. Yet people say to me that 'they'd rather be dead than in a wheelchair' ... that translates almost literally into 'you'd be better off dead than in your wheelchair.' A mother of a happy child with Down Syndrome was told by a passerby that the child should be 'put down'. Organisations within the disability community like 'Not Dead Yet' are actively fighting to ensure that the right to die does not become the obligation to die and the prejudices that lead people to believe that we, as disabled people, do not have a high quality of life.

Then I followed up with:

For those of you confident that people understand the difference between disease and disability, right now ethicists are writing that parents should have the right to 'after birth abortions' so they can kill disabled babies that slipped through the genetic testing net. They state, speaking about about people with disabilities:" Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life."

Then a guy named Adam said:

Dave Hingsburger - certain ancient cultures killed deformed babies on sight. You may not think its "ethical," but it did contribute to the strength of their society. Myself, while I understand those families who choose to be responsible for rearing strongly disabled children, I'm not opposed to after birth euthanasia for those children who would not be capable of living a full and independent life.

Then I said:

Adam ... so you think that Hitler was right to engage in the mass slaughter of disabled people, who were called useless eaters, in an effort to clean up the gene pool ... wow. 

There were no follow up comments to that. I heard about Godwin's Law several years ago and many of my friends use it to mean 'as soon as you make a comparison to Hitler, you've lost the argument.' So, why did I make the comparison to Hitler? Well, in this case it's apt and a logical follow up to what Adam had said. Ancient cultures contributed 'to the strength of their society' by the death of disabled children. Um, isn't that pretty much the Nazi philosophy regarding that lovely 'master race' stuff.

What astonishes me is that no one. That's NO one, except me, took him up on what he said. It just sat there, reeking of hate, and wasn't worthy of comment.

And that's comment enough for me to leave the discussion frightened. 


Mary said...

After birth euthanasia.

What a phrase. It's killing babies.

I think we all know why they can't own their standpoint, and say in plain language "we want to kill babies who, based on their physical appearance in the first hour of their lives, don't fit our ideology... we believe putting babies to death is okay if it will save us money..."

After birth euthanasia.

They want to kill babies. They believe it will strengthen society to become the sort of society who kills babies.

Strength of society, indeed.

I would sooner be weak, than be so incredibly morally reprehensible that I would not defend the life of a child.

Glee said...

Lotta lotta people agree with him Dave. They would sooner we were not around.

And abortion on the basis of suspected disability is the worst kind of disability discrimination I can think of.

And I think that whoever thought up Godwin's law was probably not of the type of person who were exterminated by Hitler.

Glee said...

oh and hear hear Mary!

Anonymous said...

Bravo Dave!!!

I recall in the early stages of my pregnancy, my OBGYN offering an amniocentesis to identify any medical issues our baby might have (if any). I told the doctor that my husband and I wanted to have a child and to us, it would make no difference what issues our child may or may not have.

Several months later, our sweet daughter was born, and the world became a brighter place with her in it. As she was place in my arms, I promised her I would make the world a better place for her, I would love her unconditonally.

When our baby girl reached 15 months, the red flags of Autism began to appear. She didn't respond to her name, didn't gesture or seek joint attention, she had several quirks that weren't typical for a child of her age. We sought a referral for a diagnostic assesment. After a 2 yr wait for such an assessment our daughter, was diagnosed as having Classic Autism- her prognosis grim. We sat and listened to the "Diagnostic Team" list off all of the things our daughter could never do,would never achieve- how her education fund that we had started for her when she was 3 months old should be transfered to a trust fund to ensure she would be taken care of financially, when we were no longer able.

As the meeting concluded, a Youtube video was suggested for us to watch; a video created by Autism Speaks where families talk about their experiences with having an "Autistic Child" (their language not mine). I went home and watched the video and was FURIOUS that it was being recommended for families to watch. In the video one parent, (a mother) expressed how she was driving in the car with her "Autistic Child" and almost drove into the river with said child to end both their lives. She noted the only thing that prevented her from doing so was her "non-autistic daughter", who would be left without a mother. The message I heard from that mother- she would rather be dead then parent a child affected by a disability and her child affected by Autism would be better off dead!

Today, there is research being done to create a prenatal test to determine if a fetus has Autism. This sickens me! In college, when we studied Intellectual Disabilities- we learned that a surprising number of fetuses who were terminated because it was believed they had "Downs Syndrome"
or some other disability, indeed did NOT!

And then there's ME...

I was placed for adoption at birth. I was put up for adoption as a infant with deformaties; with my crossed eyes and my jawbone out of whack. Always thankful to the powers that be that my life was not terminated...

I am certain as research into such testing evolves scientists will, (if they haven't already), be able to determine through genetic testing if a fetus will be an obese adult, an under achiever, an addict, the list goes on and on The genetic- crystal ball...

The world would become pretty small, pretty quick!!!

Blog editor said...

Absolutely agree with Mary ... It's killing babies.

Valerie said...

I am struck by the callousness of some people in ascribing value to another person's life. Are we so mighty that we can play God? (I say this as a devout atheist, a lesbian, and a mom of a child with special needs). What a scary world. I think the comparison to Hitler's Nazi Germany is right on.

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

"Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life."

This chilled my blood.

And what Mary said. Every. single. word. She said what's in my heart, still cold from horror...

n. said...

people need to watch GATTACA, a very underrated movie of (i think) the 90s.

also people need to realize that other people are people. i think you have some books about that in your store.

i teach college (not english, before anybody bothers me about how eecummings-ish i type online) and i still don't know how to convince adult human beings that other human beings are just as real as them.

i also don't know how to convince my friends that have been taught otherwise, that THEY are as valid as those who taught them they weren't.

Unknown said...

Scarey stuff, that. And who would get to make those decisions?

Deb said...

There's a TED talk from Andrew Solomon which includes a quote from a bio-ethicist in 1968 who said no one should feel guilt about "putting away" (in an institution) or "more reasonably" putting to death an infant with Downs Syndrome because they are not really persons.

In 1968 we visited a farm where the family had 10 children. The youngest, a girl, was two and had Down's Syndrome. She was so loved, and she beamed love in return. She was just learning to walk, and they were so so proud, though her feet rarely touched the ground because the older kids carried her and simply smothered her in affection. There was no shame, just pure love.
No one could have argued that beautiful and greatly loved little child was not a "person".

You have to wonder how people can be so blind as to think human diversity is *harmful*. I even heard that from the mouths of some of the politicians in the last presidential race. Diversity is evil and can't be tolerated. There is lots of animosity and intolerance directed at "the eaters" right now - i.e. the sick, disabled, old, poor, people of colour. Less here in Canada than in the US, but we're trending that way and we need to stand up against it.

There's a world of difference between a terminally ill adult choosing to have a doctor help them to die more quickly and with less suffering than there is in "doing away with" a newborn with an intellectual disability.

But having worked in hospital nurseries I know there are times when babies are born whose medical condition is incompatible with life. The decision is left up to the parent whether to use heroic (and painful) means to prolong life by hours in an incubator or provide the comfort of cuddling and pain medication and allow the child to pass in its mother's arms, surrounded by family, as it would have done before we had all this technology.

It will always come down to the individual case and what is best for that *one* person. But people need support and rational advice in order to make good decisions.

We each need to think about the kind of death we want. Advance directives should be filed with your physician so when the time comes, if you are not able to express your own wishes, your physicians have guidance.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

It always seems to start with babies. In 1915 the Bollinger baby case gave impetus to the eugenics movement in North America. We know where that lead - involuntary sterilizations, incarcerations, worse. Then there was the Knauer baby in 1938 in Germany and we all know how badly that turned out. It seems it always starts with babies who have disabilities, we think it is merciful, the parents want to end their child's life, there are all kinds of checks and balances, but in the end we take human life as very cheap, human beings as disposable, "life not worthy of life". It seems to always start with the babies, the ones who cannot defend themselves, and goes horribly awry from that dreadful beginning.

"I would sooner be weak, than be so incredibly morally reprehensible that I would not defend the life of a child." Mary, I could not have said it better. It all starts there.

I believe that if this euthanasia bill doesn't pass another one eventually will. We are already on the slippery slope.

As to the Hitler thing - it seems pretty obvious that we have not learned the lessons of that history and we are doomed to repeat it - I find that horrifying.


Anonymous said...

Dave, that's horrible, and it must have felt terrible.

Something similar happened to me and I felt alone, unwelcome and angry, and realized how few allies I had. I recall seeing a thread once, where someone with a disability I don't have mentioned that some people with a disability I do have benefit from one of the same accommodations as people with the one I don't have. Immediately, someone else with the disability I don't have responded to say that it was horrible to compare us, that we were disgusting and it was insulting to draw any kind of parallel between us and them. Only one person voiced those sentiments, but no one spoke in disagreement.

On the other hand, I know that sometimes, it's not because everyone agrees that they keep silent. Sometimes, people have just had enough of this kind of argument and don't see any reason to batter at yet another unyielding brick wall. They might also take their disagreement to their own spaces, rather than replying. Do you think it's possible that you're not the only one who disagreed, but merely the only one who thought it would be a good idea to voice that disagreement?

Just Heidi, Autism Speaks is the paternalistic, useless organization for autism. If you're familiar with any other disability politics, you might recognize a parallel; it seems like every disabled group has at least one. (*cough*Telethon*cough*) Although they're individuals who blog rather than organizations, have you seen love explosions and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism? At the least, they can't be less useful than someone talking about murder-suicide.

Jayne Wales said...

I saw something recently about after birth abortions. I posted it after some thought because I worry about face book postings encouraging Nazi thought. I had people posting back so disturbed and physically sick by this posting. I wondered whether I should have posted but feel strongly that people need to know that these shit nazi bastards are so out there and ready to finish Hitlers work off. I'm fine with quoting Hitler, he's our big example to our age group and history. We can get fine talking about others but we know what he wanted and what he did. Simple eugenic annihilation. Spelt out very clearly and with such precision! Let we ever forget!

JohnMoxon1 said...

Hi Dave
In Oz some of us are also very concerned about euthanasia legislation for the very same reasons you are.
Here are links to a couple of my meagre efforts on Oz TV and, would you believe? Al Jazeera. euthanasia bit starts at 29min in.
BTW Deb's bioethicist is probably Peter Singer late of Princeton and now at a Melbourne, Oz uni. He also is on the Al Jazeera video just before me.