Cradle-to-Grave Eugenics: Selective Abortion, Assisted Suicide, and Structural Ableism

Because before we talk about death with dignity for disabled and ill people, we need to achieve life with dignity for disabled and ill people.

People don’t make the choice to die in a vacuum. Many of the worst parts of living with a disability — Isolation, being homebound, being a burden that family has to struggle to care for — those are all failures in disability service delivery, not things inherent to the condition.

Source: Sara Luterman of The NOS-Letter

But this concept of “dignity” still comes with an ableist miasma.

Remember that our judgments about the quality of life have nothing to do with the value of life.

By claiming there is no “quality of life” for a person who must have carers, who can’t work, or who may otherwise not be accepted by society, they also claim there is no value to their lives. However, if you talk to disabled and neurodivergent people, they don’t seem to be of that opinion. Not one bit.

Whatever our societal notions of quality are, they have nothing to do with how much a person values their own life or even how valuable their lives are to society.

Source: Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – YouTube

Transcript: Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – Leslie’s Blog

A recent Jacobin article on assisted suicide—that doesn’t mention ableism by name once—has socialists sounding like capitalists, joined in ignorance of disability, neurodiversity, and the social model. A thread among disabled and neurodivergent people discussing the article brought to my attention these two videos on neoliberal eugenics that socialists and capitalists and all those in between need to view.

So much disability activism has to focus on proving our lives are valuable.

If I may jump back to babies, I think many parents, when they elect to abort disabled babies, do so because they had specific ableist ideas about who their child would be before it was ever born. They can’t live with the perceived loss of these imaginary opportunities.

Too many parents aren’t ready to change their conception of what a life “ought” to be and have a restrictive notion of parenting that doesn’t respect their child’s autonomy.

Source: Neoliberal Eugenics 2: Euthanasia – YouTube

Truth, truth, and truth.

If a baby is born disabled (or LGBT), many parents think they must “mourn” the loss of hypothetical “perfect” child rather than accept their child for who they really are.

Don’t mourn for us. And don’t eliminate us from the gene pool. Even if value of life arguments don’t move you, we’re here for reasons.

But if you’re killing an entire person to get rid of a non-communicable health condition, maybe think on why you’d feel the need for that. Is it for the good of the child? Is it for the greater good? How do you define that? Maybe it’s because our current system places greater value on a certain type of person? Maybe it’s because our system punishes you for not practicing eugenics by not providing a social safety net.

Source: Neoliberal Eugenics 1: Selective Abortion – Leslie’s Blog

“Maybe it’s because our system punishes you for not practicing eugenics by not providing a social safety net.”

Oh how I feel that line. Our system forces you into continuous ableist dehumanization of yourself and your kids to access a bad semblance of the right to learn differently, work differently, and live differently. From selective abortion to assisted suicide, the process is cradle-to-grave.

What you can’t know unless you have #disability is how all the paperwork chips away at your soul.

Every box you tick, every sentence about your “impairment” and “needs” becomes part of the narrative of your identity…

— Gill Loomes-Quinn (@GillLoomesQuinn) April 9, 2018

Via:

Previously,

A People, Not a Problem

Lines like “With any luck, your group identity will be the least interesting thing about you” from techbro rationalists and other assorted white boy whisperers wrapped in reason bother me for many reasons. This from Tressie McMillan Cottom’s “Thick” captures a big one:

In a discussion of methods and theories and other such things that comprise a significant part of my job, one of the women—we were all women—said assuredly that we have moved on, past black and white. Hence, “black people are over.” I did not feel over and I am most certainly black. But it was said so casually because of the kind of black that I am presumed to be in rooms such as these. There have been many such rooms and I end up in more of them, more frequently, the more I inch up the class ladder. The proclamation makes a mistake of assuming that black people, like me, were only ever a problem and not a people.

Source: Thick | The New Press

“Only ever a problem and not a people” resonates with my disabled, neurodivergent experience.

Disability’s no longer just a diagnosis; it’s a community.

Source: Liz Jackson: Designing for Inclusivity – Adobe 99U

Principled, Pedantic, Non-compliant Canary

“I have my principles and am pedantic, and therefore I will not do it.”

Source: Silberman, Steve. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity (p. 96). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Readwise surfaced this quote from NeuroTribes, which rolled film on a succession of flashbacks of professional regrets, but also on an appreciation of my canary moments.

Autistic man Freestone Wilson suggested in the 1990s that autistic people are functioning as the “miners’ canaries” of civilisation. When the air in the mine is poisoned we do not prevent canaries being born in case they suffer from the poison and upset us: we clean the air or close the mine.

Source: Discussion paper on eugenics and diversity

Autists are like the canary in the coal mine of mainstream society. We are amongst the first who are affected by pathologically hyper-competitive cultures.

Source: What society can learn from autistic culture | Autistic Collaboration

…at the same time, Asperger insisted that the non-compliance of his patients, and their tendency to rebel against authority, was at the heart of what he called “autistic intelligence,” and part of the gift they had to offer society.

Source: THINKING PERSON’S GUIDE TO AUTISM: On Hans Asperger, the Nazis, and Autism: A Conversation Across Neurologies

And, take my word on this, no one can identify and rebel against an unfair system as efficiently as a kid or adult with ID, except perhaps an autistic person. They know the system is unfair!

Source: PBIS is Broken: How Do We Fix It? – Why Haven’t They Done That Yet?

Some of those pedantic principles were part of an inchoate affinity for structural ideology and reflexive disdain for deficit ideology that I’ve only recently gained the vocabulary and framing for through neurodiversity and disability rights communities.

Imagine that you have a neurodevelopmental disability that gives you some challenges with social skills and possibly the occasional rigid adherence to things like truth and fairness. Chances are good that you’ve been explicitly and implicitly told that you are pedantic, rude, blunt and not considerate enough of others’ points of views for your whole life.

Source: I Overcame My Autism and All I Got Was This Lousy Anxiety Disorder: A Memoir: Kurchak, Sarah: 9781771622462: Amazon.com: Books