Disabled people want and need to be part of the reproductive rights discussion, they want to be listened to. They were not part of the reproductive rights conversation before the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, and they are frequently still shut out. Disabled people have jobs, intimate relationships, children, and are sexual. Too often, the disabled are infantilized, overprotected and desexualized. U.S. law holds that people with disabilities do not have bodily autonomy, so ruled the Supreme Court in Buck vs. Bell, 1927. The anti-choice movement claims they are on the side of disabled people because if abortions stop, every disabled person will be born. No! Aside from the fact that pregnancy can endanger the health and very lives of some disabled women (see News & Letters, “Handicap This!” Nov.-Dec. 2022), they should be able to access abortion just because they choose to. Often, people say that disabled women should be allowed to access abortion because they would not want to pass on their disability to a child, or they cannot possibly parent a child. Let’s invite the disabled to tell, and let’s listen, to their reproductive stories and all their stories.
November is Indigenous Disability Awareness Month in Canada. Founded by Indigenous Disability Canada/British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society in 2015, it aims to raise awareness of the contributions of the Indigenous disabled community and the barriers it faces. Canada is a signatory to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is obligated to improve the economic and social conditions of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. One in three Canadian Indigenous people live with a disability compared to one in five in the general population. Continued racism towards Indigenous peoples contributes to the barriers they face. Indigenous Disability, Developmental Services Ontario and Community Living British Columbia all advocate for, raise awareness about and provide services to support disabled Indigenous people.
European Union countries require people to prove their percentage of disability. British traveler Meg Fozzard had to prove she was at least 75% disabled by showing her EU disability card to in order to get a discounted ticket at the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence, Italy. Fozzard is in a wheelchair and she was allowed to use her Freedom Pass instead, because she, like all Britishers, is not part of the European Union which issues disability cards. Her friend Jo, also disabled, also visited Italy, but decided not to see the Vatican Museum because the only way she could get the advertised free admission would be by showing a certified disability of greater than 74%. Natalie was given a wheelchair, she assumes because she walks with a cane, but received only a partial discount at the Berlin Zoo after she showed her MS information card. In Greece, another of Fozzard’s friends found that only people who had been determined to have a severe disability are granted free admission to many places.