Trigger warning: Disabilities, Abortion
Disclaimer: I know I hold an unpopular opinion, which I’m trying to work through logically on paper in this post; therefore, it’s likely there’s some unintentional ableism coming through. Please be gentle.
I support any and all research that could potentially correct for malformed genes in the womb. I support prenatal genetic engineering.
Here’s how I see it: Pretend I’m pregnant and the doctor says, your baby has genes for the leg thing you have or Down Syndrome or severe Autism, but with this tonic, I can render those genes dormant and your baby will be healthier. I’d take it in a heartbeat. I fully support the fact that disabled humans are still human beings and still people, and I wouldn’t dare try to imply that someone is inferior because they have a physical or mental disability, but… disabilities make life harder. A baby born with a disability has that much less ability to live up to their true potential, has to work that much harder to get the same results as their peers, and on top of that, if it’s severe enough, has to deal with discrimination and othering. Why would I want that for a child? Why would I want that for anyone I love? Life is hard enough without having extra challenges on top of that.
Now, the one exception I know of is the Deaf community. A child born to two Deaf parents is going to be raised within Deaf culture; however, there is an unfortunate tendency for Deaf culture to other and exclude the hearing. It’s sad, but I can see not wanting to correct the hearing in a child born into that situation, because they’d be at a disadvantage being the one hearing child in a room full of Deaf children. Any other community that works that way I can totally understand turning down our hypothetical magical tonic.
Still, though, why is this outlook bad? Why do I come off as some kind of eugenicist Nazi or something for pointing out that people with disabilities have things they cannot do as easily, and therefore, have a bit more of a struggle? Why can’t we talk about the fact that disabilities suck and in a perfect world nobody would have them just like nobody would be murdered or have a miscarriage or any of a number of awful things that could happen to a person? Why do I feel the pressure to pretend that people with disabilities somehow don’t have extra limits because of their disability? I mean, I totally understand that people with disabilities are still people and should be treated as such, but if you’re in a wheelchair you can’t compete in a triathalon, and if you’re autistic it’s much more difficult to interact with people. These are things that are true. I want my baby to be able to run a triathelon if she wants. I want her to be able to talk to anyone at any time without feeling intimidated or pressured or othered or excluded, and while I can’t change the whole world for her, if I can make these things easier I would.
The real borderline case is the case where there is no magic tonic and you have to choose between having a child with disabilities and aborting the fetus. That one, I feel, depends on the situation and the beliefs of the mother; there is no definite answer, not even for me personally. If I was working two jobs and still relied on welfare to make ends meet, I’d abort for sure — I can’t provide the kind of care the baby would need, and it’d be hard to find someone willing to adopt a disabled baby and even then there’s abuse rampant in the system. But then, I’d be likely to abort any baby in that case. I don’t want to bring children into a world where I can’t provide for them. If I was a billionaire, I’d have no problem with having a disabled kid. I’d remodel my mansion to be some kind of paradise custom-tailored to their needs and hire an army of servants to cater to their whims and they’d be like, the happiest fucking kid on earth. But again, I’d do that for a normal kid too, just with less remodeling. Anyway the point I’m trying to make is that in that situation I wouldn’t blame anyone in that situation for any choice they made (except things like “have child, leave in dumpster to die”, that’s fucking horrible).
I don’t know. I guess it’s a fine line between “The world would be better off without people like you in it” and “You would be happier if you weren’t disabled”, but I believe the latter and not the former. There’s room for everyone in this world. It’d just be nice if nobody had to suffer. Eliminating genetic disabilities (in living people, not by killing people) would make a world with people who suffered less than the world we have now, therefore, I support it, because I support things that make people suffer less.