Across the aisle – Respect for life is also a disability issue

It’s pretty clear that in many disability organizations the D-word is thumbs up and the R-word is the opposite. In […]

It’s pretty clear that in many disability organizations the D-word is thumbs up and the R-word is the opposite. In other words, the Democratic Party is held up with esteem and the Republican Party receives little in the way of respect, contributions or the hope for effective governance.

After reading the articles, “Down syndrome organization has concerns about new parental testing policy” and “Baghdad atrocities on people with disabilities condemned,” along with other political commentary in the February edition of Access Press, it seems to be an appropriate time for people with disabilities and their advocates to consider what exactly the GOP is fighting for in this year’s political standoff.

One of the issues the GOP fights for is RESPECT for LIFE from conception to natural death. That is, most in the party seek to let pre-born people live and protect vulnerable, born people from euthanized death.

It’s often thought that the Democratic Party values life by promoting government-funded programs for people who are disabled. That’s why so many disability organizations support Democratic candidates. The problem with this argument is: you must first be BORN to get their support, and many Democrats support a women’s right to choose, which opens up the option of abortion.

Across the aisle, isn’t the Republican Party the party that will truly support the National Down Syndrome Congress’ position that “individuals with Down syndrome have innate worth and should be treated with dignity and respect”? Yes, it is.

The sorry fact is that by 2006, 80% of babies diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome were aborted. With that one simple appalling statistic, we begin see the plight of fetuses with Down syndrome and other pre-born human beings that don’t quite meet many in our society’s perception of a life worth living.

Like so many people with disabilities throughout history, fetuses identified as being defective through prenatal testing are targets for extermination. That’s nothing new. In ancient Greek and Roman societies, babies were birthed, but then those with disabilities were abandoned and left to die.

As far back as Plato and Aristotle, discourse about humans with deformities had already begun. Aristotle, 380-327 B.C., contemplated the concept of a perfect body and an imperfect one. He described the imperfect body as being deformed, mutilated, monstrous, and deviant; in modern terms, disabled.

Exterminating people, one way or another, simply because they are perceived as imperfect, and thus worthless, has been around for a long time. Sadly, the exploitation of the individuals with Down syndrome used as human drones in Iraq is a deplorable, current-day example of it.

But deplorable too, in my opinion, is the termination of pre-born human life; an extermination made possible because technology has given ill-informed or misguided individuals an easy opportunity to quietly rid the world of “their problem.”

So as this political season heats up, don’t take a narrow perspective. Think outside your own disability box. Please consider all the issues relevant to people with disabilities. Look across the aisle and consider what both political parties are doing for the well-being of ALL people with disabilities.