For the moment, I’m not debating whether abortion should ever be a choice. And I hope you will never hear me condemn a woman who has already made it hers. For the moment, all I want to say is that a prognosis of disability does not make an abortion better or more legitimate. Since I’ve announced my pregnancy, I’ve been amazed by the number of folks who have casually asked me, “If the amnio is bad will you terminate?”
It’s sad when the word “terminate” is a euphemism; it’s so ominous in itself. But in this case it’s a gentler phrase for what they really mean. What they really mean, standing in the Starbucks line or on the light rail or over my cell phone, is “You’ll probably kill this child if he is disabled, right?” Asked by a co-worker in a more casual tone than I recently heard her discuss euthanizing her dog. Asked by a friend, who knows my brother is disabled, as if asking what color the nursery will be in the event I don’t decide to play God. Asked by any number of good, decent, nice people who you wouldn’t expect to pass a death sentence just because someone is disabled. Even asked by legislators charged with promoting justice and doctors whose “care” should include a reminder that panic is not a basis for decision-making.
This question and its tone, its prevalence, unearth the roots of discrimination against disabled people: that truthfully, those asking would be okay with it if such people weren’t allowed to live at all. For the sake of everyone’s comfort I won’t get hysterical and make genocide comparisons. But please, don’t assume this question won’t offend me. For it very much does.