How do people with disabilities feel about abortion?

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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
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10 May 2022, 8:47 pm

People with disabilities themselves have been largely absent from the public debate on abortion rights — until now.

Disability has been used as something of a political football in the abortion debate. For decades, fetal abnormality and disability have been part of abortion-rights advocates’ argument that people need access to the procedure. Anti-abortion advocates, meanwhile, argue that disability-motivated abortion is discriminatory and devalues disabled life.

Pollsters have been checking the temperature on abortion since the 1970s. They’ve asked respondents about their race, gender, religious beliefs and more. They have not, however, asked respondents if they are disabled, even as some polls asked whether abortion is acceptable in cases where the “child would be mentally disabled.”

The new poll, conducted by progressive firm Data for Progress, suggests that the opinions of Americans with disabilities are largely similar to the opinions of non-disabled Americans. The polling was done after Politico reported on a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Data for Progress national poll indicates that 55 percent of non-disabled people and 53 percent of people with disabilities believe that abortion should be legal in most circumstances, which largely reflects recent data from other polling firms.

Fifty-eight percent of all respondents would prefer for Roe v. Wade to remain in place, while 59 percent of people with disabilities feel the same way.

“Disabled Americans support abortion,” said Matthew Cortland, a senior fellow at Data for Progress who has been leading the effort to include disabled Americans in the firm’s polling since they joined last year. “Disabled Americans know this affects them. Disabled women in particular know that this affects them.”

The poll did show a few differences.

People with disabilities say they are more likely to vote in November if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Still, even without polls to confirm it, people with disabilities have had complex views on abortion for a long time.
In “No Pity,” the seminal history of the American disability rights movement published in 1993, the journalist Joe Shapiro wrote, “to their secret horror, almost every disabled person knows that had his or her condition been [detected before birth]… he or she likely would not have been born at all.” Approximately two-thirds of American parents who are given a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis chose to terminate their pregnancies between 1995 and 2011, according to one systematic review. The numbers are similarly high for spina bifida, another common congenital disorder.

Melissa Ortiz has spina bifida, and it is part of what informs her anti-abortion stance.
“Is my life perfect? No, but I think it freaking rocks. It’s certainly better than the alternative,” she told The 19th.

Ortiz has worked extensively with the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List, and was nominated for their hall of fame in 2019 for her advocacy. She was pleased by the news that Roe will likely be overturned, but also felt that it still wasn’t enough. “I don’t just want abortion to be illegal. I want it to be unthinkable,” she told The 19th.
Having a disability also informs an abortion rights stance for Mia Ives-Rublee, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the progressive Center for American Progress.

“For someone like myself who has osteogenesis imperfecta, who may not be able to safely bring a baby or fetus to full term, my life is on the line if Roe drops,” she told The 19th.

But it isn’t only a question of safety. Ives-Rublee feels that bodily autonomy, control over one’s own body and medical choices, is central to both the disability and reproductive rights. The Center for American Progress published an extensive report on reproductive justice for disabled women last year, which Ives-Rublee co-authored.

In the report and in interview, Ives-Rublee drew parallels between abortion access and other issues of bodily autonomy in the disability community like forced sterilization.

Ives-Rublee acknowledges a problem with the way doctors often talk to expectant parents about disability. “After genetic testing the parent hears from all of these doctors and professionals that the individual isn’t going to have a good life, that they might not live to adulthood, and it’s often misinformation,” she said. But for Ives-Rublee, restricting abortion isn’t the way to combat the issue.

Instead, she says, the issue is “nuanced” in ways that may not be obvious to non-disabled people. “Individuals in the disability community want people to have bodily autonomy. What we also want is for parents to get the information they need to make good, well-thought-out decisions,” Ives-Rublee told The 19th.

National disability organizations have also rarely tipped their cards on how they think about abortion. Historically, disability organizations have been reluctant to put out statements indicating their viewpoint, and only two put out statements on the news that the Supreme Court appears poised to overrule Roe v. Wade from the Supreme Court.

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Joined: 1 Jun 2017
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Location: Poland

11 May 2022, 2:27 am

How about systematic suport for parents of disabled children?
My kids aren't particularily seriously disabled and I'm in a good family situation and in Poland we don't have the problem of medical bills - but still raising my children cost me mental health. Thinking of raising a child that would require regular hospital visits and 24/7 care well beyond infancy - I don't think we'd survive it.

Strange that the topic is entirely absent in the discussion above.

BTW, the numbers in the polls look like the disabled people have practically the same distribution of opinions on the topic as non-disabled people.

Let's not confuse being normal with being mentally healthy.

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11 May 2022, 7:35 am

I can separate my aspie diagnosis from my own self worth which I think is important.

Unfortunately we are in the age of identity politics where some people want to be the living embodiment of their disability than just a human with a condition.

To cure or remove the disability is in their mind to remove or act against them as they are not able to separate the two.

It’s very common in the autism world.

Sadly these people just set themselves up for a life of extra stress heartache and conflict as they try to defend the indefensible.

This was seen recently in the UK where a person with Down syndrome lost her attempt to change the law on abortion and Down syndrome.

I suspect the this lady was one of these type of people. ... n-law-case

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends upon the unreasonable man."

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