Friday, July 10, 2020

"Don't define me by my disease." On abortion and ableism.

[Today's guest post is by Deb Jones. If you would like to contribute a guest post, email your submission to for consideration.]

Deb and Shooter

One of the main staples of the argument that abortion needs to stay legal is for those with disabilities, those diagnosed with diseases, syndromes and things of that nature. Why? Because those people suffer and we want to eliminate the suffering. Let me explain why that argument is offensive, bigoted, ableist, disgusting, and just plain incorrect.

I live with Behcet's disease, a rare autoimmune disease where I'm in constant pain (the pain began 12 years ago when I was 15, the diagnosis for the pain wasn't solidified until I was around 23). Medication and exercising through walks usually help me keep the pain at a manageable level. There are some days, however, where wearing even the loosest, softest, gentlest clothing is excruciating (some days, I can't even be touched or touch myself) because my nerves are so sensitive and no amount of medicine can even take the edge off.

When people suggest a person with a disability is better off dead (having been aborted), it is a slap in the face because they're telling me I would be better off not existing. Yes, life is hard. Yes there are some days I feel so low I don't know what to do or how to feel or how to cope. There are some times where I have to take it one day, one minute, one second, one breath, one heartbeat at a time....but that's part of the human experience. 

If I didn't have the low parts of life, I wouldn't be able to fully appreciate the high parts. If anything, my disease has helped me more than hindered me. I'm more compassionate and empathetic than I was before the pain started. Yes, it's made my life more difficult but it's also been the epitome of creating beauty out of tragedy and brokenness. I am like a glowstick: once dull and grey at the beginning or my life, then broken (with my disease) to become vibrant and beautiful.

Don't define me by my disease. I am more than my disease. And my disease has made me more.

My disease does not define me or decide my worth.

Read more:

The people whose lives you suggest aren't worth living? They can hear you. Secular Pro-Life Perspectives, May 24, 2019
Lucky to Be Alive: Zika Coverage, Ableism, and the Terror of Disabled Bodies, Huffington Post, February 5, 2016
How the Pro-Choice Movement Excludes People With Disabilities, Rewire News, October 17, 2014
"Didn't you get tested?" Salon, April 28, 2013

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