Thursday, April 23, 2009

Disabled Feminist Voices Her Concerns Over Selective Abortions

Victoria Al-Sharqi:

I know that a prenatal test for one of my conditions is expected within the next 10 years. It is already within the development stage. This knowledge does not exactly make me feel like a valued member of society. I wonder why? I would like to believe that the test will be used in a positive way, perhaps allowing parents to read extensively about their future child’s condition before the birth, make the necessary adaptations to their home and organise the best educational provision that they can well in advance. Call me a cynic, but somehow I doubt that this is what the test is intended for. And that makes me wonder whether all this talk of equality actually has any meaning, or whether it is simply designed to make non-disabled people feel good about themselves. How can you tell me that you value my contribution in the workplace when you support legislation that is grounded in the idea that disabled people are incapable of contributing anything? How can you laugh and joke around with me over lunch when you support a measure that is designed to protect disabled people from the vale of tears that we are supposedly doomed to inhabit?


I was proud to call myself a feminist throughout my time in the Middle East. It was only when I moved to Britain and realised the extent to which the abortion debate dominates British feminist discourse that I began to have my reservations about whether I could find a home within the movement. I was told that I wasn’t ‘qualified’ to condemn abortion on grounds of disability, and when I heard that I realised that I would be treated no less dismissively if I did support selective abortion. Then I would be turned into a token, a mascot. And I have no desire to be either of those things. I want to be a person in my own right.