Education and Exposure is Key to Bias Against Disabled Mothers

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The ableist, ignorant, and dangerously discriminatory comments from the female OB-GYN on a popular daytime program shows just how far we all must go to educate the public about disability.

These hurtful and demeaning statements came just in time for #MothersDay on a nationally syndicated talk show The Doctors. The issue was about the “ethics of IVF” and used as an example a lovely woman from Australia, a quadriplegic, who was seen celebrating the birth of her new baby via IVF.

“There’s a lot of ethical questions around IVF,” notes ER Physician Dr. Travis Stork.




Rachelle Friedman, a quadriplegic with her baby Girl

Rachelle Friedman, a quadriplegic with her baby girl born via a Surrogate.

Ethical questions? So, being a mother with a disability is an ethical issue?

Rachelle Friedman, Jen Goodwin, Teri Thorson, all mothers who happen to be quadriplegic before the birth of their babies, as well as thousands of others, would beg to differ. Ironically, Rachelle has been featured on The Doctors several times and was part of a TV series on Motherhood that aired last January.

As parents with disabilities, our children may not have had Mothers who could manage ALL, or even ANY of the physical requirements of being a parent, but just ask many men over the history of time, who never changed a diaper or washed a bottle, or women who choose to hire a nanny or allow their older children to care for a newborn, being a parent is not only a physical role but about support, love, emotional intelligence and knowledgeable, educated parenting.

Are we discussing the ethical issues related to parents who have only the physical abilities and none of the other qualities needed to be a successful parent?

Here is a recent article showing Harvard research on what it takes to raise a child. Not one mention of physical ability.

These are the 5 secrets to raising a good kid, according to Harvard psychologists:

  • Spending quality time with your children
  • Let your kids see a strong moral role model and mentor in you
  • Teach your child to care for others and set high ethical expectations
  • Encourage kids to practice appreciation and gratitude
  • Teach them to see the big picture

 

“I understand her desire to have a baby,” says OB-GYN Dr. Nitra Landry, “But I don’t agree with it. I feel as though it’s unfair to the baby.”  Dr. Landry must be forgiven for what she does not understand.

Her lack of any experience or exposure to real mothers with disabilities must be to blame for her statements. This type of thinking can only be overcome with exposure, and perhaps  Landry’s Elite Medical Enterprises just never had the honor of serving a Mom with a disability.

" What happens if she is alone with the baby and something happens? I understand wanting to be a mom, but the kid will suffer. "

“Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled. On this basis, people are assigned or denied certain perceived abilities, skills, and/or character traits..

There are stereotypes associated with various disabilities. These stereotypes in turn serve as a justification for ableism practices and reinforce discriminatory attitudes and behaviors toward people who are disabled. Labeling affects people when it limits their options for action or changes their identity.”

The video of the show was shared on the Facebook group called Wheel Mommies’ and the hurt, disbelief and frustration that these amazing Mom’s on wheels felt was just another example where the rights, acceptance and empowerment of people with disabilities is far from the spotlight.

Yes, we want to have babies Dr. Landry, and we are glad you sympathize, but you or no one’s opinion is going to stop us from achieving ALL our dreams and you need to please review your able bodied privilege and stop making such short sighted and hurtful proclamations as to our ability to parent.

Resources:

Deborah Davis

Deborah is a Speaker, Disability Inclusion Consultant, Entrepreneur, Writer and Business Owner of Wheelchair Lifestyle Enterprise Push Living Inc.

She was a Former Dancer, Accident Survivor (C 6-7 Spinal Cord Injury resulting in incomplete Quadriplegia 1985), College grad (BBA Finance 1991 U of Miami), with a background in Sales and Marketing and Non Profit Development and Management.

She is now embarked on new path creating a market for Disability Inclusive Stock Images with the creation of PUSHlivingPhotos.com and publishing an online enterprise: PushLiving.com. The mission is to create Inclusion for people with disabilities through stock images for advertising, marketing and editorial uses, providing accessible properties for travel, swap or purchase, publishing an online magazine for improved health and well-being, providing information and opportunities for Accessible Travel, and operating an online store with products that improve lives.

She is most passionate about building a network of people with disabilities who are empowering, supporting and creating a more inclusive world. Personally, she is a mother of two beautiful, wise and exceptionally bright young women, and residing in South Florida.

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