So, campaigning for the right to be the next US President is in full swing. It is during times like this that controversial topics resurface in the public consciousness, everyone becomes an expert, and said topics are once again thrust into the spotlight for debate.
I have recently been asked a very interesting question; where do I stand on the subject of vaccinations? Or rather, do I ever encounter people who, based on the fact that they know I have a disability assume they know where I stand on the topic?
Well no actually … but since we’re on the subject, I am very much pro vaccination.
I myself am vaccinated as is my brother. I had my disability before my vaccination and my brother (who is three years younger than I am) does not have a disability at all. Should I become a mother in the future my children will also be vaccinated.
I do not begrudge any parent who chooses not to vaccinate their child. I just believe that prevention is better than cure. I am aware that disability can occur at any age without warning via other means (even if you have had a vaccination). I believe it never hurts to have insurance and it is my belief that vaccinating against diseases such as polio, whooping cough and others will help to provide that insurance. I am aware that there is a belief that vaccination actually causes disability. I don’t believe this to be true but I would be happy to read any credible scientific evidence that proves me wrong.
.I am slightly uncomfortable with people using the fear of a child becoming disabled as a reason not to vaccinate though. To me it infers that life with a disability is tragic and I do not believe that it is. I do understand that raising a child with a disability is a difficult job and the thought of it may be daunting, but isn’t parenthood a challenge with every child?
Then there is the topic of abortion…
Remember Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan governor who was the running mate of John McCain in the 2008 US presidential election. You know, the one that said she could see Russia from her back porch (suddenly Donald Trump isn’t looking so bad is he). She is staunchly anti-abortion unless the life of the mother is in danger and she can prove it. She has a son with Down’s syndrome. That’s right, the fact that she gave birth to a child with special needs even though he could have messed up her plans was used in the Republican campaign to bolster her anti- abortion stance. This was possibly not her idea, but it did result in her being held up as some kind of hero.
This doesn’t sit well with me either. Again, it paints disability in a grim light and seems to suggest that this child is not as valuable as her others. Also, that she is somehow a better mother because she is caring for a child who has a disability. This is ableism at its worst.
Because I have a disability some people do assume that I too would automatically share the same opinion. I don’t. I do not appreciate being told what I should do to my body and so I will not do that to anyone else. I am pro-choice.
I know what it’s like to live with a disability. Hell, I know what it like to live with several disabilities at once. Yes, sometimes it’s hard, but for the most part my life is pretty damn good. As I see it the issue here is not where I stand on controversial topics but why it is necessary for me to declare my position at all. Especially when this means I then need to defend my life and my very existence.
I’m not the one running for office…
I will not condemn you for your opinion, however, I will not award you a medal either. I speak for me and me alone and so do you. I am not your scapegoat.
Even though I may be your “disabled friend” please do not use me as justification for your opinion. Just like a broken mirror would do, it may reflect badly on me.
Nina – Marie Butler
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