Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Bit More on Reproductive Choice

It occurs to me that, in my last post, I neglected to mention what has probably been the single most important reproductive-choice issue for disabled women throughout history: the right to reproduce.

Here is a brief passage from Edwin Black's 2003 history of the American eugenics movement, War Against the Weak, describing the far-reaching campaign to sterilize all people deemed "unfit"*:
In the two decades between Indiana's pioneering eugenical sterilization law and the Carrie Buck decision [link], state and local jurisdictions had steadily retreated from the irreversible path to human sterilization. Of the twenty-three states that had enacted legislation, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, South Dakota and Utah had recorded no sterilizations at all. Idaho and Washington had performed only one procedure each, and Delaware just five. Even states with strong eugenics movements had only performed a small number: Kansas, for instance, had sterilized or castrated 335 men and women; Nebraska had sterilized 262 men and women; Oregon had sterilized 313; and Wisconsin had sterilized 144.

Although some 6,244 state-sanctioned operations were logged from 1907 to July of 1925, three-fourths of these were in just one state: California [link]. California, which boasted the country's most activist eugenic organizations and theorists, proudly performed 4,636 sterilizations and castrations in less than two decades. Under California's sweeping eugenics law, all feebleminded or other mental patients were sterilized before discharge, and any criminal found guilty of any crime three times could be asexualized upon the discretion of a consulting physician. But even California's record was considered by leading eugenicists to be "very limited when compared to the extent of the problem."

Many state officials were simply waiting for the outcome of the Carrie Buck case. Once [Justice Oliver Wendell] Holmes' ruling was handed down, it was cited everywhere as the law of the land. New laws were enacted, bringing the total number of states sanctioning sterilization to twenty-nine. Old laws were revised and replaced. Maine, which had not performed such operations before, was reponsible for 190 in the next thirteen years. Utah, which had also abstained, performed 252 in the next thirteen years. South Dakota, which had performed none, recorded 577 in the next thirteen years. Minnesota, which had previously declined to act on its legislation, registered 1,880 in the next thirteen years.

The totals from 1907 to 1940 now changed dramatically. North Carolina: 1,017. Michigan: 2,145. Virginia: 3,924. California's numbers soared to 14,568. Even New York State sterilized forty-one men and one woman. The grounds for sterilization fluctuated wildly. Most were adjudged feebleminded, insane or criminal; many were guilty of the crime of being poor. Many were deemed "moral degenerates." Seven hundred were classed as "other." Some were adjudged medically unacceptable. All told, by the end of 1940, no fewer than 35,878 men and women had been sterilized or castrated --- almost 30,000 of them after Buck v. Bell.
Because of differences in available procedures (the first vasectomy was performed in 1897, and they were being used for eugenic purposes by 1899, while tubal ligation did not become widely used until after 1930**), the sex ratio among people sterilized during this period changed with time. In the earlier years, from 1907 until about the mid-1930s, more men than women were sterilized, but in the 1930s and after, the trend reversed, with more women being sterilized even though tubal ligation is a more invasive, riskier procedure than vasectomy***.

In case you're under the impression that coerced sterilization of disabled people (particularly women) has been relegated to the history books, here is a brief, noncomprehensive list of forced-sterilization cases since 2000:

  • Ashley X (2004)
  • Katie Thorpe (2007) - a 15-year-old British girl with cerebral palsy, whose mother has asked that her growth be stunted and her uterus removed.
  • Kristen Johnson (also called KEJ) (2008) - a 29-year-old Chicago woman who has said she wants to have children, but whose aunt filed a request for a tubal ligation, which the Illinois Appellate Court refused.
  • Laura Ferris (2003) - 13-year-old girl from Tasmania with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder whose mother had sought a hysterectomy for her in order to prevent menstruation. The request was denied.
  • "Carla" (2001) - 24-year-old woman with Down syndrome, cared for by her grandfather, who wants her to get a tubal ligation

Why do I bring all this up? I have two reasons, one political and one personal. (Or, since the personal is political, maybe one is just more explicitly political than the other). First, this new rule from the Department of Health and Human Services, which allows health-care workers to refuse any treatment that "violates their personal beliefs", could make it even harder for disabled women who want children to find an OB-GYN willing to help them. In a cultural climate where disabled women (and men) have, until fairly recently, been routinely sterilized for the perceived good of Society, and where, even now, disabled women and girls are sometimes sterilized without their consent because their parents or guardians believe it would be best for them, and disabled people are seen as selfish, irresponsible and reckless for choosing to have children, this rule adds another layer of uncertainty and hazard to the already-fraught process of Procreating While Disabled.

The other, more personal, reason I bring this up is that this is the context in which my own reproductive choices are being shaped, and into which they will reverberate. I do not wish to have children. I'm so confident in the strength and persistence of this wish (and the various reasons that feed into it) that I want, and am seriously considering, surgical sterilization. What I emphatically do *NOT* want, however, is to strengthen anybody's conviction that disabled women should not have children just because I don't want to. I'm choosing sterilization because it's what I want; I'm not being "unselfish" or "mature" or "responsible", except inasmuch as recognizing what one wants and taking steps to achieve it is mature and responsible. Hence, when I do go in, I think I will leave my autism (and depression) out of it entirely, and tell them why I don't want children in generic, personalized terms --- I don't much like other people, I like a lot of time to myself, I don't handle demands well, I like quiet --- or broad, impersonal terms --- I have ethical issues with adding more people to an already-overpopulated world, especially when I'd be adding them to the richest, most energy- and resource-hogging country on the planet, and when so many children who already exist need homes. I will shift the question from "Should I give this autistic woman a tubal?" to "Should I give Lindsay a tubal?"

*This term encompassed many different categories of people: racial and ethnic minorities (blacks, Native Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, and even non-Anglo-Saxon European immigrants), petty criminals, poor people, chronically unemployed people (researchers at the time observed that crime, poverty and unemployment tended to affect whole families, and inferred that therefore those things must be genetically transmissible!), alcoholics, epileptics, blind and deaf people, people with low IQ scores (who were, of course, overwhelmingly poor, nonwhite or immigrants), and people who had been committed to insane asylums. Often, the "unfit" also included blood relatives of any of the above.
**Procedures for female sterilization, like the salpingectomy and primitive, non-laparoscopic versions of the tubal ligation, had existed and been used infrequently since the 1880s.
***One possible reason more women were sterilized once tubal ligation came into common use might be the practice of clandestinely performing tubal ligations on women who had children by C-section.

57 comments:

Mark said...

Hi:

I wrote you once before. As I recall, you said that you were leaving the KC/Lawrence area soon.

Ari Ne'eman, the president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, wanted me to invite you to subscribe to the network's discussion list:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/asandiscussion/

Mark

shiva said...

Again, necessary and well said.

Your reasons for wanting to be sterilised correspond pretty much exactly to mine... although for me it's pretty academic, because i don't see much realistic chance of me getting into a relationship involving penetrative sex any time soon, and it's also probably somewhat less politically tense for me as a physical male than it is for you as a female.

There is a part of me that feels that "the right to reproduce" is, as a concept, itself problematic (for non-disabled just as much as disabled people) - with the environmental concerns, as well as the number of abused and/or unwanted kids already in existence (a vastly higher than statistical percentage of whom are disabled, of course... arguably all if PTSD is counted as disability) - but i do strongly feel that disabled people very definitely have no *less*, if also no *more*, of a right to reproduce than anyone else (and in most cases would also make the best adoptive parents for those unwanted disabled kids).

Hope you are having an enjoyable Christmas... or, if you don't celebrate Christmas (which i don't, really, but go along with the blood family to), not too overloaded with the ubiquity of it...

Lindsay said...

There is a part of me that feels that "the right to procreate" is, as a concept, itself problematic

Yeah, I think so too. I'm at a weird mental crossroads about this, because while "right to procreate" implies an unsettling, ultimately destructive disregard for the consequences of human overpopulation, to think of human reproduction as anything but an inalienable right opens up doors to places I really don't want to go --- places where other people determine who can or can't procreate, or how many children they should be allotted.

The absolute most that I'd want to see government or society doing is ceasing to reward marriage/procreation and penalizing their opposites: as it is, a person without biological descendents can look forward to a bright future as a homeless person, an impoverished shut-in or a nursing-home resident.

A society in which the only socially sanctioned bonds are those of blood and marriage, and all other human intercourse requires the exchange of money, is going to be one that breeds (ha!) more ill-thought-out, unhappy marriages and families --- and more marriages and families in general --- than a freer, looser communal society.

Greenconsciousness said...

I just got crucified for saying the same thing on Astarte's Circus. A bunch of privileged AH commentators so comfortable in their PC rhetoric with no f -g idea about how cruel life is to the disadvantaged just distorted everything I said to fit their privileged world views. They referred to everything I said as ranting and raving. But I was responding to them in the way they treated me. Civil when they were civil, throwing their insults back in their face when they were not.

One finally told me I should "eat a .44. Then the blog owner told him that made her uncomfortable and she hoped that did not make her a jerk.? I cursed them and left. So much for rational discourse on this subject. People hear what they want to hear and most are brainwashed not to see but to believe.

http://octogalore.blogspot.com/2008/12/babies-and-hypocrisy.html

But I did not come here to speak of this until I saw your post. I came here to ask you to check out my friend's blog and I told her to come here.

Long history of Au/As and trouble with the youngest now manifesting. There was no need for the troubled daughter to breed before she became self sufficient but of course she did. Now they are blaming the husband for not supporting just as the grandmother did. Why people cannot understand that when you breed with abusers they will not support you is incomprehensible to me. But that was the past and now there is another generation of disabled, dependent, and tortured children which of course causes the adults much pain. I wonder how much of this disability is induced and how much is biological since this is the only branch of the family with it. But could be from the abuser father, now dead, of whom little is known.

Having said all this, I will also note that the grandmother, my friend, is an incredibly gifted artist and poet, as well as a kind and gentle person. I am also an artist although not as talented. I know how she feels walking in the world of visions and then having to navigate in this world where everything is governed by rules which are not understood and do not make much sense.

You know more and may be able to say something relevant and helpful about the 5 year old's needs. If you do go ignore the pictures and read the 2 last posts about the 5 year old.
http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=Sari0009

Greenconsciousness said...

Oh yeah and I forgot why I started writing. I got news for you friend -- good luck with trying to get sterilized EVEN if you tell them about the autism. You may read in books about how easy and the forced and all that but I tried to get people sterilizations and never succeeded. Not once. Not Planned Parenthood - no where. 22 year old girls with 6 children, threatening suicide -- no. After humiliating exams - no. You will hear it all which boils down to "you will change your mind some day".

If you do find someone who will do it; publish their name and city.

Lindsay said...

You may read in books about how easy and the forced and all that but I tried to get people sterilizations and never succeeded. Not once. Not Planned Parenthood - no where. 22 year old girls with 6 children, threatening suicide -- no. After humiliating exams - no. You will hear it all which boils down to "you will change your mind some day".

Oh, I know that, Greenconsciousness. I have no personal experience with it as yet (lacking health insurance, I will be unable to act on my wish for sterilization for some time), but I've read endless horror stories in the blogosphere about young (white, usually) women being denied sterilizations for that very reason. Often, it's not just "You'll change your mind later" but "What if you meet a man who wants to have children?"

It's just that, while young women seeking sterilization are often turned away, and I would face a hugely uphill battle trying to get one for myself, I also have to be conscious, as a member of a group that most of society wishes would go away (i.e., disabled people in general and autistics in particular), that there are good and bad reasons why any particular doctor would agree to sterilize me. Operating from the assumption that I'm going to have to persuade someone to do it (as I am young and childless, which to most people equates to "she's going to want kids someday"), it would be easy to use my autism as leverage in that argument. That would be very bad, because that would strengthen that doctor's idea that autistics should not reproduce, and that sterilization is right for all of them, no matter their individual wishes; as opposed to awakening a belief in him that all people, whoever they are and whatever their circumstances, should be able to make their own choices. I suspect that it will be harder to convince somebody to sterilize me just because I think it would be best for me to remain childless, but any other reason would threaten other people's reproductive freedom.

Women are screwed all sorts of ways, reproductively: access to abortion and contraception is often unreliable, surgical sterilization is denied to women who actively seek it while at the same time it is forced on other women, and during birth itself, unneccessary medications and surgical procedures are often forced on women as well.

Forced pregnancy and birth; forced sterilization. They're both oppression, even if the women likelier to experience forced birth than forced sterilization tend to be economically and socially privileged compared with the women likely to be sterilized against their will. I occupy a strange and somewhat awkward position in that I belong to both groups: as a young, educated, white, middle-class woman, I'm a prime candidate for producing more white, middle-class babies for Jeebus; while as an autistic woman I am a parasitic drain on the Welfare State who must be stopped from breeding more like me. For me personally, since I can speak and have been to college (never mind that I'm chronically unemployed and cannot drive) I'm probably a lot likelier to get the "oh, you'll change your mind" brushoff. But the other prong of the dilemma is still there, even if I am less likely to be speared on it personally. I at least have some obligation not to contribute to it as I attempt to evade the other one.

Does that make sense?

Greenconsciousness said...

No it doesn't because half of it is what you "should" think or feel to be Politically Correct.

First, disabled people who are likely to have disabled children should not reproduce. Abused children who are likely to repeat the abuse should not reproduce. There is nothing oppressive about that position. Know your limits. The real political correct position is that although your particular handicap is involuntary it should not be forced on another innocent life.

As I have said elsewhere on the web, I have worked with abused children who routinely pass on their miserable childhood and compulsive lives to their own children. All social dysfunction stems from this. Most of this is done to increase the social security disability checks and gain some economic security. But that is not the result. There is even a more powerful reason crippled women want to reproduce and that is the compulsion to reproduce in order to act out an unresolved family dynamic that they think they can manipulate to finally get what they need emotionally.

Also, despite what your politically correct teachers and friends and authors taught you,complete with stats,your frank claim of disability will not get you sterilized. There are no groups of color or disability who are sterilized because doctors are racist or don't want to be bothered by disabled. This is a male left fantasy which is routinely taught by those who want to be perceived as cutting edge radical humanitarians. It is a myth accepted without question by the 3rd wave. You will learn it is a lie the hard way because you will not believe me.

Last, I have some comfort for you for when you are refused. I don't recommend sterilization except for the self destructive types like my friend's daughter whose abuse was so severe and lasted well into her teens so that she was destined to repeat it on her own children. And she is doing so along with all the lies about how she earns a living and the denial of her equally dysfunctional family.

That is the sterilization situation. There, because the writing is on the wall that she will be compulsive about a need to recreate the original family dynamic where she is comfortable,and none of them have insight because of denial and PTSD. People who cannot function in the world cannot teach children to be self sufficient. They will raise dependents as they are dependent and the abuse stats for dependents are through the roof. Who has a right to breed slaves?

So for those who will not control their reproduction and will be unable to parent perhaps sterilization is necessary.

But you seem under no compulsion to reproduce in order to act out an unresolved family dynamic that you think you can manipulate to finally get what you need. So for you, birth control will be enough.

Sterilization is life altering. You go into early menopause. The sex drive diminishes and is lost. The vagina dries up and the clitoris numbs. You lose the sacred mystery of menstruation which is a blessed miracle believe it or not. You age. There are drugs which are necessary. I believe abortion is preferably to unnecessary sterilization.

The cases I had were young women for whom Birth Control was simply not an option and who hated the children they had already produced under the above compulsion. They alternated between wanting to kill their self and/or the children and they were were still getting pregnant. One had four abortions. To me sterilization is only an end of the line solution.

You have many, many alternatives. Enjoy your body's health and natural functioning.

Mark said...

Disability is a social construction, not an objective condition. If we were all accommodated, regardless of our situations, there would be no disability.

That is one of the basic ideas in the social model of disability.

Mark

Greenconsciousness said...

Right. And if we were all angels we could fly.

Lindsay said...

disabled people who are likely to have disabled children should not reproduce. ... There is nothing oppressive about that position.

Green, I think it is a position conducive to oppression. Obviously, you just sitting there thinking those thoughts doesn't oppress anyone, but when policies are drafted based on principles quite like the ones you espouse in the above quote, those policies oppress people. Depriving a person of the ability to determine the course of their own life (to the extent that anybody can, of course), just because they belong to a certain group, is oppression.

Greenconsciousness said...

That is an adult centered position. I get all this shit from people because their whole viewpoint is from what they get to do -- their rights. Screwing up a child for a lifetime of misery is just fine as long as no one interferes with MY right to do anything I want. And of course children are property of their parents. I do not believe it is oppressive to refuse to pay for the breeding of children who will need tremendous support just to maintain life. Those that are already here should have every accommodation but their right to breed more like them self who they could not parent even if the child is not disabled is where I draw the line. I think that is MY right.

Oppression and limitations are two different things. I have limits in my life. Economic limits and physical limits.

Disability advocates, whose income is disability breeding dependent, demand that homeowners pay more and more for SSI and special school accommodations while our politicians award bail outs to their class. We are one inch from revolution of the working class because there is no more money to take. Then there will be NO support for you and your rights when that happens.

I think disabled people and their advocates are exhibiting a narcissistic greed when they demand to reproduce if they cannot support them self financially. I think the exact same thing about non disabled people and people who can afford it if they have not worked out abuse issues. A disregard for the economic rights of people who are supporting them. Yes, for them self they are helpless and it is my duty to accommodate them totally but it is not my duty to support their right to produce more to destroy me financially. We can learn a lot my watching nature. I have a right to economic self defense. Your right to breed conflicts with that right. Now shall we fight to the death or accommodate one another? I pay completely for those which exist and they do not breed more. That is my view of a balanced solution.

You continually refer to being told you are a "drain on resources" derisively as if people who talk about that are wrong. Resources are limited. I have as much right to them as you do. When your disability takes my share and leaves me with nothing as property taxes do now to the poor, then I have a right to say, no more. Your right to reproduce stops at my need to pay for it. I have end stage glaucoma and what medical care I get comes from the charity of strangers. I would not dream of burdening them further and am always searching for ways to lighten their load. That other people do not do the same is a mystery to me.

This is how I feel about the right to breed which is at this time absolute and encourage by tax and benefit subsidies and encouraged by those same policies penalizing the non disabled child free in this country. The book the Baby Boon lays out each tax policy so affecting reproduction.

belledame222 said...

Tell you what, "green consciousness," as long as we're fantasizing, I'm happy to take whatever resources -you- are using, oxygen included and redistribute them to just about anyone else who needs them. I've read your posts around: in your case, Godwin's Law really doesn't apply. You ARE a Nazi in all but name: hate to break it to you, but there were plenty of 'em all about preserving the pristine ecology and the unsullied virtue of the -right- kind of woman (yeah, you're a racist warmongering genocidal fuck as well, why don't you tell everyone here about your theories on how liberating the Mideast will take "a lot of killing?")

Apologies to the host, I got pointed here by someone else, I don't mean to focus on this...person...instead of the OP, but I just saw red. Yeah, it's mean. Yeah, it's harsh. Deal with it, GC, you're so tough=minded. Survival of the fittest, amirite? Jesus.

Greenconsciousness said...

I hope I have not directed a lot of AHs here Lindsay - sorry

Mór Rígan said...

You continually refer to being told you are a "drain on resources" derisively as if people who talk about that are wrong. Resources are limited. I have as much right to them as you do. When your disability takes my share and leaves me with nothing as property taxes do now to the poor, then I have a right to say, no more.

I think, Greenconsciousness, you picked up the wrong lesson in Animal Farm. "Some are more equal than others" is what Orwell was against.

Very interesting post, Lindsay.

Greenconsciousness said...

No it is you who do not understand me. I think we are all equal and have an equal right to the resources. When those who need more throughout their lives get what they need I am happy but when they reproduce others who also do I am not. If you need more resources balace that out by not reproducing.

Right now in this country we have polygamy where taxpayers are supporting men who have 4 wives and 20-30 children all on welfare. My position on that and for abusive parents on and on is all the same. I think parents right ought to be subservient to children's rights. Every child should have a right to be born into situations which do not have inherent risks. Life will be hard enough.

Mór Rígan said...

And where exactly do you draw the line Greenconsciousness? Should a person with diabetes, depression or mono not have children? Most conditions have a genetic component. What about fat? Policing reductive rights is not an option.

I'm pro choice because I believe that women have bodily autonomy. All women. Not just those you decide are acceptable. I suggest you check your privilege.

Greenconsciousness said...

I draw the line at self sufficiency -god do you people even bother to read what I write? I said quite clearly if you are self sufficient, that is, can support your self if a partner leaves and you do not abuse animals or others because of an unresolved childhood trauma then you can reproduce. I would make that a threshold although I would like to go further. I know further crosses the line you are all so worried about.

Mór Rígan said...

What collective are you speaking to? Who is "you people"? As far as I am aware this is the first time I've engaged in discussion with you.

Glad to have your patronising approval to reproduce.

Just to blur that line a little: you are defining self-sufficiency as never requiring anything but roads and bridges from the government; never requesting social security or a state pension and never accepting tax relief. Correct?

Lindsay, thanks for your patience. Sorry about the argument on your blog

Greenconsciousness said...

Sorry, you are not the first person who asked me about "the line" today.

But as far as "my patronizing approval" YOU ASKED THE QUESTION - get snotty because I answer it as far as i am able and I won't bother to answer.

I mean by self sufficient, able to support yourself (and your children)when/if your partner leaves. Able to model self sufficiency. Not never to need assistance but not to need to go back to an abuser and not to cripple the child's ability to be self sufficient through your own abusive, dependent or neglectful behavior. Not to move 15 times a year, live in dangerous places, subject the kid to abusive situations because you can't maintain self sufficiency. I want women to understand they should not breed when their own life is not stable.

You know I have to have some understanding to be able to talk about this. There has to be good will on both sides. I have a lot of knowledge about things most people have only read about. I am speaking out in the interest of women. This idea that women have to reproduce to find fulfillment is telling women to live vicariously so they do not notice they are economically oppressed when they try to live through their own life instead of through their children.

I say you should be able to be self sufficient without working in the sex trade to support yourself if you want to reproduce.

I am really not interested in being trashed. I am not an oppressor. I am not trying to force women to be sterile but I am proposing a moral standard for reproduction which is unthinkable in feminist circles today. I think that there are unequal rights in the area of reproduction which need to be corrected and women need to discuss the morality of reproduction in terms other than the pro life definition of morality.

I am asking for a fair use of limited resources which includes respect for nonhuman as well as human species. I am asking for men to have veto power in reproduction since their economic life will be affected. I am asking that economic policies be neutral with regard to marital and parental status. I am asking that parents pay for the school system. The childless will still care for children in all the other social services but the tremendous burden of the schools needs to have some limiting factor. Something is needed to make over producers place some limits on their own selves.

Natalia said...

Happy New Year, GC!

I find it particularly hilarious that you don't want to get trashed, yet do worse than trash others yourself - you basically think that there are groups of people who should be denied the right to exist.

Yet YOUR precious feelings are hurt in this discussion? Please. Like Belle, I haven't exactly forgotten your comments on the Middle East. Now that you're running up and down the internets complaining about "defectives," it's obvious that getting called a Nazi is quite clearly the least of your problems.

belledame222 said...

Frankly. And you show up -at the blog- of someone who's talking about -choice-, basically providing a terrific example of everything she's saying is ableist if not actually genocidal and clearly not understanding a damn word of her actual point; she's being incredibly gracious to you and you're whining to her about all the other people who just don't -understand- -you-. FFS.

Seriously, who the hell appointed you arbiter of who gets to exist? What on earth makes you think -you're- not a drain on resources? I find you incredibly draining and that's just from encountering you on the Internet. Frankly, I think anyone who's as big a sucking black hole of troll energy as you ought to be for the chop if anyone is. Do the world a damn favor. No, really, shall we put it to a vote?

Greenconsciousness said...

Natalia

You don't care about ideas - you are a person trasher - what you accuse others of is your own mirror - you are a Nazi and a harasser. You are acting out your own anger at rejecting parental figures. But you will never be satisfied. Get anger management counseling before you end up in a mental institution or prison.

If you cannot respond to ideas and continue to make personal insults and attacks I will get serious about finding out who you are behind the mask you use when you bully anonymously.

Greenconsciousness said...

Lindsay, I have got to stop this. This is your blog. I will post the synopsis of my position on my own blog in a few hour and people can come over there if they want to object. Thank you for your patience.

bint alshamsa said...

I'd like to buy a drink for the person who suggested that GreenConsciousness eat a .44. If ever there was a waste of perfectly good space, she is it.

As a person with disabilities who has a daughter who also has disabilities, I'd like to personally invite GreenConsciousness to go fuck herself. My daughter goes to a school for the gifted and talented. She is an extremely accomplished artist who, as a child, has had her work featured in places where most adult and/or non-disabled artists would love to have the opportunity to show their work. She's currently teaching herself Japanese and she can speak basic American Sign Language. I'm quite sure that she would be well qualified in dealing with a talentless, brainless wannabe-disability-theorist like you but she'd probably have even less patience for your bullshit.

The idea that those of us with disabilities are only capable of producing children who won't be able to be self-sufficient is the biggest load of tripe that I've heard in quite a while. If you were really all that "green", you'd cease to consume this planet's precious resources and become an "an hero". Mother Earth would thank you and so would I.

belledame222 said...

If that last is a suggestion that my comment was actually a sock puppet of Natalia's, I am happy to assure GC that I am an entirely separate person who -also- thinks you're a total fuck. Feel free to investigate to your little heart's content. There are other people who'd be more than happy to return the favor, dear.

Lindsay said...

I see that Bint Alshamsa beat me to it, but I did also want to address Greenconsciousness's assumption that no congenitally disabled person (for, despite the fact that plenty of people become disabled later in life, we seem to be limiting this discussion to people born with a disability) can have a productive, full or happy life.

Though I don't doubt for one second the truth of Greenconsciousness's assertion that many elements of human misery (e.g., poverty, abuse, mental illness, certain fatal diseases) can be passed down from parents to children, and therefore it might be reasonable to include such quality-of-life considerations in one's decision to have or not to have children, I do NOT proceed to her conclusion that all people with disabilities can only offer their (disabled, we assume in this argument) progeny a bleak subsistence in some dingy Dickensian underclass. To assume that the presence of a given impairment (say, oh, severe cognitive and/or developmental disabilities) utterly precludes a whole range of life possibilities (going to college, working, doing scientific research, publishing articles, living on one's own) is an overgeneralization.

Examples? This Australian woman, Anne McDonald, who's had athetoid cerebral palsy since she was born, whose IQ has been measured at below 35, who is quadriplegic, cannot speak and spent thirteen years of her early life in an institution. Nevertheless, she has passed a university entrance exam, gotten a master's degree in the humanities, co-written a book and worked in the nonprofit sector.

(Ms. McDonald has complex views on the subject of euthanasia, which are online here. She believes death would have been preferable to the institutionalization she endured, but she also "love(s) the life (she) now lead(s)").

Suffice it to say that every aspect of Ms. McDonald's story serves to highlight the profound ignorance, and imaginative failure, surrounding most experts' ability to predict quality of life.

One other point: on the subject of economic self-sufficiency, many disabled people's failure to find or keep employment stems not so much from their incompetence on the job as from outright discrimination. (See my series of posts on this subject, and see also retired Canadian postal worker turned autism researcher Michelle Dawson's human-rights suit against her former employers).

Lindsay said...

Again, though, I do think Greenconsciousness raises some valid points:

1) The concept of a "right to reproduce" is problematic given the reality of overpopulation, pollution, mass extinction, overfishing, soil erosion from irresponsible high-impact agriculture, resource depletion etc.

2) As it stands, various economic and social factors work to encourage human reproduction at a much higher level than is ecologically sustainable.

3) Many children are being born into truly horrible conditions.

I think all of these are absolutely true, and would certainly favor economic and cultural changes making it easier for people to remain childless if that's what they'd rather do. I might also go so far as to echo the person (I think on IBTP?) who suggested that the perfect solution might be making parenthood an opt-in rather than opt-out proposition by developing a long-term form of birth control that could be given to every boy and girl at puberty and removed whenever the man or woman decided they were ready to become parents.

I know it would take longer, and require a lot more concerted effort, to loosen up the culture and strengthen the social and economic safety net than merely to put additional onus on individual women to live spotless and ascetic lives, but I think it would be a better solution, and does not distribute the load of responsibility as unevenly.

killjoy said...

I came over here from a link -- hi.

I agree there are valid points buried under the pile of hateful misogynistic Nazi crap. (GC may call herself a radical feminist, but she isn't one; she's a right-winger, probably with a dog-eared copy of The Bell Curve on the bedside table.) But GC conflates so many issues that we're left with this...crazy stew.

I mean, taxes. She feels her property taxes are too high. Fine. How about funding schools through another, more progressive form of taxation? No. The only solution is to cut the cost of the schools. Nothing else those taxes pay for? No, schools. How to cut the cost of the schools? By getting rid of programs for children with special needs. How to get rid of those programs? Get rid of special needs children.

So she's moved from a problem with the current tax code to a problem with the existence of people with disabilities (and a lot of other people -- somewhere she said that 40% of women aren't good enough to have children, maybe Astarte's Circus), in a way that is, well, breathtaking.

Oh, and then this "radical feminist" turns into an advocate of sexual violence against women (forced abortion). And THEN complains that women are being mean to her. Brilliant.

Natalia said...

*snort*

Sorry to disappoint, but I post everywhere under my own name. That's pretty much how I roll, Sherlock.

If your fabled detective skills lead you to Jordan - I'll be happy to buy you a cup of tea. You seem like you need it. Oh, except that there are DARK SCARY MEN who live here, and they haven't been exterminated just like the DEFECTIVES, so you've been warned.

I enjoyed the pop psychology, but have you thought of doing stand-up? Because the humour of someone beating her chest about "breeding defectives" and proceeding to have her precious fee-fees hurt when people call her on her hateful BS just refuses to wear thin.

Lindsay, I think that there are many ways in which we can avoid vast amounts of children growing up in misery. My overall thoughts? A society that pools together in aiding the next generation in productive ways is going to be more successful than GC's ultimately dystopian vision.

I think the first step against overpopulation is getting rid of the idea that women are merely broodmares. Over half the world's population are women, and most of us are taught, from an early age, that our ultimate goal is motherhood. And that the more, the merrier. And don't you dare complain.

How do you reject that system? I was born into a very paternalistic society, and I think that good education (the thing that GC wants desperately to become even MORE underfunded) is always key. This is purely subjective, but being exposed to new ideas and getting challenged and having teachers that allowed me to debate them *completely* changed me. I went from a strict, disciplinarian form of schooling in the former USSR to something completely different. But I was lucky - a good school is still hard to find.

I still want to be a mother someday - maybe - but I'm sort of immune against people who suggest that "5 kids at least" should be the norm, or that adoption is some kind of sin against nature, or that motherhood is the pinnacle of all existence. For example, I'm glad that out of my three aunts on my mom's side, two had babies - my mom and one of her older sisters. The other two? They were shamed and made to regret their choices, but I tell them today, "you were right to listen to yourselves." They didn't *want* motherhood, and having it forced on you is one of the reasons why so many children do ultimately grow up in misery, after all.

Greenconsciousness said...

Lindsay - thank you for the reasoned responses.

Kill joy: I am a radical feminist since 1972, changed the lives of rape victims and battered women as well as displaced homemakers and others significantly by changing institutions and laws with targeted populations. I started the first Battered women shelter in my state, the second in the US with a task force of such women that I formed. I went out at night and got them out of kill situations when there was no shelter. With other women i walked streets where rapists were operating so wome in those areas could get rides home and someone to enter the house with them. We passed out MO and descriptions and actually caught some rapists by these methods. I am an Alinsky direct action organizer who was taught at his Midwest Academy. You should treat that service with respect. Maybe I know more than you do.

The first way you could show respect is by actually quoting me instead of these morons who haven't even read what I wrote but play back their inner momma and daddy talk when characterizing my posts.

I DID suggest alternative tax structure. Instead of only the property tax funding schools, which is wiping out the elderly poor, let PARENTS, both renters and home owners fund schools. They can deal with limits or have none if they wish and have all special ed and nothing else then for all I care. Let the actuaal parents decide whether tennis courts and football fields are more important than computers. There are arguments against this system and that is all they are. Arguments to keep the status quo in place so speculators can take these old people's homes at dirt cheap prices. The price of the back taxes they cannot pay.

Also I am not, in this country, an advocate of forced abortion, although if I were in China today I would be. There is a distinction there which may be too fine a point for you. I am not going to argue China with you however. I would not want to live in that cesspool of overpopulation, pollution, and the cruelty that comes along with it. I don't want it here either although corporate America does want it here.

In the end, that is the enemy although you do not get it. The misogynist, patriarchal, corporate, religious, government complex and its media tools creating and supporting a preggo culture that romanticizes breeding so that desperate people will be easier to control and eager to work for low wages and no benefits.

And Lindsy, I will remind you that the limits I would put on breeding are self sufficiency and ability to parent non abusively. I used the deliberate breeding defective children as Sara Palin did to the universal admiration of the right wing pro lifers and the media as an example of how far the culture accepts the romanticize of breeding.

You might have a career as a sociologist Lindsay developing statistical studies on the life of such children. Yeah lots of applause while the children are young and the parents strong. But then the parents get old and or die and the children are big. At a certain economic level this may be managed successfully supposing honest guardians which is a big question. But I was a guardian ad Litem for not so lucky children. Children who were put in "homes" when they were no longer children. Group homes, institutions, nursing homes, half way houses. Yeah, they all had great times being raped and sodomized when they weren't staring at a wall with their teeth rotting out because no one gave a damn. But the owners of those homes; the national offices of the franchises and the govt employees not to mention the lawyers and social workers; they made lots of money off those people and they still do. Even the Kennedys sent their daughter to such a home. Well maybe not. Maybe behind the clean doors of Rosemary's "home" there really is a wonderful life.

killjoy said...

"You should treat that service with respect. Maybe I know more than you do."

Maybe you should get back in touch with your roots, then. Right now you're advocating violence against women, which as a "radical feminist" (were you actually one) you would stand against. Yes, even if the women affected were "defectives" living in a "cesspool."

As for property tax, oy. All tax is not property tax. I'd explain further but it seems like such a waste.

belledame222 said...

Also, we haven't even touched the bit about "people who've been abused," because depending on your definition, that's...pretty much everyone. And if you go back in the history of the world, you don't even have to stretch the definition of "abuse" all that much. "Nasty, brutish and short," anyone? And yet, Phillip Larkin notwithstanding, people do manage to learn, heal, be better parents than their parents were. Not always, unfortunately; I mean here with GC we see a terrific example of someone who, "breeding" notwithstanding, is absolutely correct in her self-assessment that she should in no way be in charge of the raising of an impressionable youth, because she's utterly toxic. Still, I do believe there's an element of choice in there somewhere.

Anyway, sure, I agree, there's a lot of irresponsible parentage going on, and a lot of people do treat it as though it's...about -themselves- rather than "oh, yeah, it's a really important decision involving a lot of other people." On the other hand, there are a lot of -other- ways people can do damage as well. I mean, yes, Ceaucescu's policies were pretty damn horrific themselves, but somewhere in there there's a happy medium where...I mean, we seem to be getting from GC this weird mix of "radical" (yeah, right) hooha and Margaret Thatcher's dictum that "there is no such thing as society," with a lashing of MRA psuedo eco-psych for good measure. Bizarre doesn't begin to cover it.

belledame222 said...

Oh yeah, and besides all the other hilarity, this?

I am asking for men to have veto power in reproduction since their economic life will be affected.

Is an MRA stance, and about as far from any "radical feminism" as anything I've -ever- heard.

belledame222 said...

Oh, and GC: per "respect," -I- am Marie of Romania. What, don't you believe me? But I'm telling you as an anonymous stranger on the Internets! RESPECT MAH AUTHORITAH DAMMIT

Greenconsciousness said...

You are no longer anonymous to me

belledame222 said...

-snort- Ew.

belledame222 said...

Yeah, I think so too. I'm at a weird mental crossroads about this, because while "right to procreate" implies an unsettling, ultimately destructive disregard for the consequences of human overpopulation, to think of human reproduction as anything but an inalienable right opens up doors to places I really don't want to go --- places where other people determine who can or can't procreate, or how many children they should be allotted.

The absolute most that I'd want to see government or society doing is ceasing to reward marriage/procreation and penalizing their opposites: as it is, a person without biological descendents can look forward to a bright future as a homeless person, an impoverished shut-in or a nursing-home resident.


Agreed. Which necessitates the building of alternate "family" and/or community structures. Which mostly requires, I think, at this point at least, government getting out of the way of the structures people are already trying to create on their own.

I do see the endless thrashing against gay marriage and trans rights and polygamy and any sort of alternate structure to the traditional het nuclear family as part of this, even though obviously "right to procreate" is part of (for instance) some lesbian couples' concerns as well. Then again, you figure that the people screaming about same sex marriage are the same ones blocking not only medical-finanical support for alternate means of reproduction for women (single and coupled) as well as same sex couples adopting, and so on, and so on, and so on...

And of course, it's -usually- the same ones livid about the idea of "it takes a village to raise a child" as those who are screaming about traditional parental rights, and the preservation of the nukular family. So, y'know, the combination of GC's apparent disbelief in any sort of larger social contract (yes, obviously there are problems with given particular forms of governmental institutions) with a supposed "no breeding for the good of society and the planet" is...well...interesting, to say the least.

killjoy said...

Oh, I don't think anyone here intended to deny that some people are just horrific parents, or that many people make ill-advised decisions about when and how to procreate, or even that motherhood is fetishized (more or less depending on your segment of society) or that this fetishization has a lot to do with punishing women for sexuality and/or pushing us into traditional, dependent roles.

But again, big mixed-up stew. The same people who lionize Michelle Duggar or Sarah Palin for having a whole bunch of babies are the people who float schemes like paying poor women of colour to get sterilized. They'd agree with GC about those defective overproducers having more children than they can afford. And they'd agree with GC that the correct thing to do is make life harder for PWD, harder for abused children, harder for people who hit a streak of bad luck.

Natalia said...

Aw, look. No forced abortion for genteel American ladies (yet), but those Chinese women who just don't know what's good for them? Force open their legs!

That's so hip and radical and progressive and all.

The jokes write themselves.

As an abuse survivor, I found the whole "abused people shouldn't breed" thing charming as well. Especially since one has to wonder just *who* gets to determine whether or not people like me are "fit" to have children (or to adopt them, for that matter) - luminaries like GC? As we used to say in the USSR, the "bright future" must be right around the corner now.

Greenconsciousness said...

Harder for abused children? you POC. You POC. Quote me you filth.
and name one thing that can be checked that you ever did to help an abused child.

People like you -fools like you are the source of all misery for abused children. May what you do go back to you 3 fold.

Greenconsciousness said...

Natalia(sic)

You know you are unfit and there is no shame in that knowing. The shame is in denial.

killjoy said...

"Harder for abused children? you POC. You POC. Quote me you filth."

...I'm actually white, but interesting you use POC as an insult.

Lindsay said...

Hey, Greenconsciousness, could you please tone down the abusive content in your posts?

It's the last two in particular, calling Natalia Antonova "unfit" for parenthood (though she has said she might want to have children someday) and calling all the other commenters "fools" that stick out to me as Unnecessary Roughness.

It also might be good to give the other commenters the same respect for their backgrounds (Natalia mentioned surviving abuse, Bint Alshamsa is a disabled woman with a disabled daughter who is an accomplished artist) as you would have them give to yours.

Also, in fairness: other commenters, I know you are angry, but please refrain from directing personal attacks at Greenconsciousness. For the most part you are doing this, but I figured I might as well say that, too.

Lindsay said...

My overall thoughts? A society that pools together in aiding the next generation in productive ways is going to be more successful than GC's ultimately dystopian vision.

I think the first step against overpopulation is getting rid of the idea that women are merely broodmares. Over half the world's population are women, and most of us are taught, from an early age, that our ultimate goal is motherhood. And that the more, the merrier. And don't you dare complain.

How do you reject that system? I was born into a very paternalistic society, and I think that good education (the thing that GC wants desperately to become even MORE underfunded) is always key. This is purely subjective, but being exposed to new ideas and getting challenged and having teachers that allowed me to debate them *completely* changed me. I went from a strict, disciplinarian form of schooling in the former USSR to something completely different. But I was lucky - a good school is still hard to find.


I agree with this absolutely. As someone who does not intend to have children, I can nevertheless think of no better use of my (hypothetical at this stage) tax dollars than good, accessible public education (and healthcare).

Natalia said...

I *know* I'm unfit? So not only are you the saviour of all women everywhere (well, except for the idiots who don't do as they're told and must endure forced abortions so that people like you can grab more resources), you can read minds too? That's brilliant.

Interesting how it's always the MRA-leaning, can-dish-it-out-but-not-take-it individuals that want society to get "tougher" and practice all sorts of social Darwinism. Seems to be an actual trend.

Lindsay, I know this is your space and you aren't cool with personal attacks - but I think this goes well beyond telling someone "well, fuck you too" on the internet. This is classic eugenics.

J. Goff said...

As I have said elsewhere on the web, I have worked with abused children who routinely pass on their miserable childhood and compulsive lives to their own children. All social dysfunction stems from this.

I am not sure whether your supposedly large experience dealing with abuse survivors is enough to make so grandiose a statement as that. And you are aware of abuse survivors who do offer a good home to children, yes? I think you need to make a larger sampling of abuse survivors and their offspring before you go making up universals about such people.

Also, GC, what do you qualify as a "disability" that someone would have that would give you the right to take away their reproductive rights? Is there anything in the DSM or in current diagnostic medicine that you wouldn't use to disqualify someone from being able to have children?

There is a part of me that feels that "the right to reproduce" is, as a concept, itself problematic (for non-disabled just as much as disabled people) - with the environmental concerns, as well as the number of abused and/or unwanted kids already in existence (a vastly higher than statistical percentage of whom are disabled, of course... arguably all if PTSD is counted as disability)

I can understand the so-called "right to reproduce" being problematic in light of environmental concerns for some people, but taken as a matter of course in a just society, which must take into account freedom and liberty, it must be given that the freedom to reproduce exists, yes? Unless we wish to subject people to unwanted bodily harm, there is a natural freedom to do what one wants with one's own body. There is the question of "who is harmed by i?" but since DNA is not destiny, there is no real link that a person is harmed by their parents merely by being born. It then comes down to a metaphysical question each individual person must answer, and despite GC's being quick to answer it for them, in the end, the question whether or not one wishes to be given existence is one that the individual answers. If they were never given existence, then the question is moot and vapid, and GC's answering for them becomes useless, since there is no "them" for whom GC to answer.

J. Goff said...

Another Question (Sorry, Lindsay, if you feel that this is inappropriate):

Death is the end result of life, so if you're really going to be technical about it, your parents are responsible for your death, since their actions are what gave you life in the first place. If your parents are responsible for everything that happens to you due to their conceiving you and your mother giving birth to you, wouldn't that make them responsible for your death? I see no reason why GC's reasoning should not be taken to this natural conclusion, since we are already blaming parents for the disabilities of their children in all cases. Why not blame them for their child's eventual death as well? It was imminently conceivable that their child would one day die, which would never had occurred if the child had not been born.

Greenconsciousness said...

I was calling killjoy who is a pro lifer a fool not all the others (and a piece of crap which is aggressive and over the top I agree). But for Natalia she knows what I am saying is true.

Now I truly Will leave and I hope you all keep talking about this because I think you are getting to a breakthrough.

belledame222 said...

Um, killjoy is in no sense a "pro lifer," if by that one means "anti-abortion." For the record.

Well, that was...interesting, wasn't it...

killjoy said...

I was calling killjoy who is a pro lifer

Wrong.

Natalia said...

"But for Natalia she knows what I am saying is true."

I know you amuse me, Sigmund. Even more amusing is that if I do have kids, there's a good chance that I'll be raising them with a scary A-rab man. :)

belledame222 said...

Can't wait for the "breakthrough" though, really.

belledame222 said...

To get back on topic, finally: yes, it's one of many reasons why Bush's going-away present is so fucking horrific in its implications.

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Anonymous said...

"...1) The concept of a "right to reproduce" is problematic given the reality of overpopulation, pollution, mass extinction, overfishing, soil erosion from irresponsible high-impact agriculture, resource depletion etc..."

More immediately, the concept of a "right to reproduce" is problematic given that reproduction requires *at least two people's bodies*.

What if a man, or a woman who cannot carry a fetus to term herself, wants to exercise his right to reproduce while no one consents to carry a fetus to term for him or her? Should his or her right to reproduce include the right to force a woman or adolescent girl to carry a fetus against her will?

What if a woman wants to exercise her right to reproduce while no one consents to have sex with her or otherwise give her his sperm? Should her right to reproduce include the right to force a man or adolescent boy to donate sperm to her against his will?

Anonymous said...

Then there are the especially ironic cases, such as when someone's right to reproduce and the same person's right to behave differently from the mainstream are mutually exclusive.

For example, there was a case (see http://www.ourstory.com/thread.html?t=250376 and http://autism.livejournal.com/377029.html?thread=3479237#t3479237 ) in which two parents reproduced and the baby's body continued to lose weight instead of grow long after the typical newborn weight loss happened.

According to the court transcript (uploaded to the ourstory.com link by the mother herself!), "She [the mother] strictly adhered to the amounts of formula prescribed while most mothers would have given more formula because of the issue of weight gain."

Unfortunately, the baby's digestive system did not have the same Special Interest in those exact numbers prescribed.

Feeding the baby more than was recommended on the formula label, breastfeeding the baby, and accepting the offer of nanny services paid for by the state all would have increased the odds of the baby living long enough to have children and pass on her parents' genes to future generations...

...but would also have been behaving more like the mainstream. That would have interfered with the parents' exercising their right to behave differently from the mainstream.

Feeding the baby *exactly* the amount of formula recommended on the label, refusing to breastfeed her, and rejecting the offer of nanny services paid for by the state all would have fulfilled the parents' right to behave differently from the mainstream...

...but would also have decreased the odds of the baby living long enough to have children and pass on her parents' genes to future generations. That would have interfered with the parents' right to reproduce and pass on their genes to future generations.

Anonymous said...

"'I think the first step against overpopulation is getting rid of the idea that women are merely broodmares. Over half the world's population are women, and most of us are taught, from an early age, that our ultimate goal is motherhood. And that the more, the merrier. And don't you dare complain.

"'How do you reject that system? I was born into a very paternalistic society, and I think that good education (the thing that GC wants desperately to become even MORE underfunded) is always key. This is purely subjective, but being exposed to new ideas and getting challenged and having teachers that allowed me to debate them *completely* changed me. I went from a strict, disciplinarian form of schooling in the former USSR to something completely different. But I was lucky - a good school is still hard to find.'

"I agree with this absolutely. As someone who does not intend to have children, I can nevertheless think of no better use of my (hypothetical at this stage) tax dollars than good, accessible public education (and healthcare)."

GREAT POINTS BOTH OF YOU! :D :D :D