Thursday, 6 September 2012

Democrats, disability and reasons to be cheerful

Before I start, I should say this is not a political post, a judgement of attitudes or a moralistic placard brandishing protest. It is simply an observation of an intriguing cultural irony.

Yesterday I was able to catch a short summary of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. If I were an American I would vote Obama, no questions asked. Now I know the people that frequent these events are programmed to cheer and wave at even the most inane comments or policy announcements, but I have to say that hearing rapturous applause over the commitment to the US abortion bill left me unsettled and uneasy.

The platform party ‘strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay." That’s it, debate over. Even if it’s a policy you begrudgingly accept, is it really something that you want to cheer about and celebrate?

The irony that throws culture, conscience, and morals into turmoil was made immediately apparent to me. I switched on the excellent Channel 4 Paralympic coverage to find the contrast of a stadium in London, jam packed with people cheering on athletes, many of whom would be considered for abortion were their mothers to be scanned during pregnancy today.
So, in the States, the shapers of law and policy cheering a commitment to offer abortion, in part to those who find their unborn child has a congenital birth defect or disability. In the UK, and around the globe, millions cheering disabled athletes who throw the whole idea of abortion for these reasons alone into the realms of an illogical lunacy.

We were offered the choice of an abortion during pregnancy for potential defects in one of our three children. Our daughter was born alive and well, and continues to be perfectly healthy 14 years later. Another of our three is registered disabled but this was discovered later in life. I know which crowd I find myself cheering in. There is no celebration in abortion, full stop. There is everything to celebrate in the idea of preserving vulnerable lives and rejoicing in their hope through adversity. Surely, someone in political office, Stateside or UK must see the illogical and warped sense of irony in it all?

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