I wasn’t sure what I was writing about today until I logged into facebook.
Then I saw a link to a debate.org post asking whether or not parents of children with disabilities should be able to euthanize their child.
I feel sick. I can feel my skin crawl. I can’t even click on it to read. Why? Because people with disabilities are asked why they don’t commit suicide. We’re told that people would “just die” if they had to live like us. I’ve talked before about the difficulties of the pro-choice rhetoric surrounding disability, but this? Just no.
Do you know how scary it is to see that people want to know if it’s ok to kill their child? Haven’t they seen the headlines of mothers and caretakers killing their disabled children?
Being disabled isn’t safe, and legalizing that lack of safety is frightening. Where are we in the debate? Why are our reasons for wanting to live, and wanting to protect disabled life considered less valid?
It is often assumed by non-disabled people that disabilities are acquired as an adult, not lived with as a child. The concept of childhood with a disability is seen as tragic and sad – but I’ll tell you that plenty of us who are disabled from birth had fantastic childhoods. I played on playgrounds, saw childrens’ theater, went to camp, I did regular kid things.
I recognize that what I have as a disability isn’t as severe as some, but at the same time – my parents were told that they could have another one. Because my life and their child weren’t worth having. Because I am disabled, my life was dismissed.
Stop devaluing our lives because you don’t understand them. Stop posting questions about whether or not people should be able to kill us. Stop writing headlines that ask whether or not a murder was justified because a child was autistic. Stop acting like just because a child was disabled means that they were more of a target.
Yes. We *are* more of a target, but that’s because our lives are consistently devalued by these conversations. These conversations are *not* acceptable in a society where we are meant to be equals. In addition, these questions and conversations create a hostile environment and perpetuate the belief that disabled persons are less than. I cannot imagine growing up around people who had considered killing me. I can’t imagine being an 8 year old and overhearing those concepts spoken of in a hushed secretive tone.
These dialogues hurt children, they hurt adults – and yes, they hurt society. Because many people with disabilities have made important contributions to our world, and if we allowed their parents to euthanize them because “it was too hard” to raise their child, where would we be?
Children cannot consent to euthanasia, and we should never strip children of their consent. If you can’t acknowledge that your child has a right to live – then don’t have children. If you can’t manage to do the hard thing and raise a disabled child – don’t have children. Choosing to parent means that you are responsible for a life – you don’t get to end that life when they’re 6 or 7 just because they’re difficult.
A living breathing disabled person.