Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Definition Of Ableism

Photo of a stack of newspapers with the words "Breaking News!" in big bold headlines
Elizabeth Picciuto, The Daily Beast - February 10, 2015

This is a great article on an important development in the legal rights of parents with disabilities.

This is how disability discrimination works. The whole issue is based on the premise that any disabled parent is less able to be a parent than any non-disabled parent. Yes, it appears the social workers cited a few specific instances of parenting flaws, but they are so minor and occasional that it looks like they sought out those incidents in order to check enough boxes to justify their pre-determined decision.

I suspect what happened is that one or two specific HHS workers got it into their heads that the mother is a mess of some sort … not inspiring confidence or some such “vibe" … and they’re sticking to their guns out of a mixture of what they must view as bravery and highly personal conviction.

For what its worth, I can imagine myself doing something like this, too. I can picture myself meeting a young woman and her parents and just not liking them, or maybe being weirded out by them. Maybe they’re super-religious. Maybe they come off as big time nuts-and-berries hippies. Maybe they don’t believe in vaccination. Maybe it’s one of those families that's adopted like 15 disabled kids. There are all kinds of things that might set off my personal alarm bells. But none of them alone would justify taking a child away from her mother and giving her to foster parents. The difference here is that conventional wisdom still supports the idea that disabled people make suspect parents.

Again, thats the definition of disability prejudice  of ableism.

The part that really baffles me is how the role of the grandparents seems to have been forgotten. Did the social workers take a dislike to them, too? Or, did they initially not even realize they were in the picture, and never reevaluated when it became clear the mother wasnt even planning on raising her child alone?

Finally, take a look at some of the comments to the article. Of course shes incapable. The baby will suffer so she can have her rights. Shes probably going to crank out more and more babies. Lovely stuff, all based on broad generalizations and not at all on the specifics of this situation.