Christian Taylor Buchanan

Christian Taylor Buchanan

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Addressing the Fallacy - "They Should've Been Aborted"

There has been a lot of heated debate lately on my social media accounts about children with special needs. What could anyone possibly find to debate about them, you wonder? Their value and worth. Oy!

Shocking as it is, it's the truth. I have heard it all of Christian's life. The argument is always  that parents who carry children with disabilities to term and allow them to live are selfish. The premise of that argument is that people with disabilities are better off dead than disabled, that having a disability means they are suffering, and that they are a burden on society anyways, financially and otherwise.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to debunk this way of thinking once and for all.

First, let's address the selfish parents thing. Parents of special needs children are literally the most selfless people I know. I don't say that because I am one but because I am a personal witness to it. I say it because I know the amount of sacrifice I have personally had to make so that my disabled child can have what he needs and I know countless others in my own community that do the same. I'm curious as to how many folks who are out there calling special needs parents selfish actually have first hand experience with what they are talking about.

My guess is zero to none. I have given up so much sleep over the years that my health suffers for it. I have given up more meals than I can count. I have spent the last six years of my life driving Christian to appointments, doctors, specialists, therapies, educational opportunities, and a school for blind kids, totally on average 3000 miles per month, spending upwards of $300 a month in gas, wearing myself thin, giving up the things I would rather have been doing, so that he could get where he needed to go, get the care he needs, and have every opportunity he deserves. I have given up so many of my wants and even needs for his sake. I have given up countless hours that should've been spent with my husband, and my marriage has had to suffer. I have given up countless hours with my younger child, who deserves me just as much. I have given up times that I wanted to spend with my friends, and have had to place friendships on the back burner. I have given up my peace, stressed to the point of vomiting, so many times while I sat in OR waiting rooms waiting on his surgery to be over or waiting on phone calls from higher ups who get to make decisions about Christian that I don't get a say in. I couldn't even guess at the extra expenses that we have incurred because of Christian's medical and educational needs. Thousands upon thousands. Not to mention the fact that I had to quit working to stay home and care for Christian since we couldn't put him in a day care. Not that I'm complaining, I have loved staying home with him and would much rather be with him than at a job, but it sure does make finances tight.

And I am not special in that respect though. It's not to brag, but to just show the reality of it. Every parent of a special needs child that I know does this exact same thing. They give up careers, marriages, friendships, their entire lives, to ensure their child has what they need. And the thing about them all is that they don't complain about it or regret it. In fact, they all say they'd do it again if they had to, because their child is worth it. And, none of them consider themselves special. They are simply doing what it takes to care for their child properly. It just so happens that their child needs a lot more care.


I'm just not sure how anyone could see a parent of a special needs child and see selfishness. I've heard people say, "You only kept your disabled child so you could fulfill your selfish desire to be a parent," I can't even understand how anyone could use an argument that is so illogical. If someone just wants to be a parent, why wouldn't they abort the disabled child and try again for a child who won't cause so much emotional, mental, physical, and financial strain? The truth is that human beings are not disposable. This isn't Sparta. We shouldn't just toss out the children deemed "too weak" or "imperfect." And yet, some basically glorify the same thing in our society don't we? We call killing "compassionate" and tell ourselves it's "for the child" to ease make it sound not as terrible as it is.

Moving on, let's tear apart the way of thinking that causes people to make such silly arguments as the one I just ripped to pieces above. Let's just be blunt here. No use pretending it is something it's not. Call it what it is. There are people who actually think that being dead is preferable to having a disability. The only thing I can tell you here is this: If you don't have a disability or if you are not intimately acquainted with someone who does, you really can't make an educated decision in that area. Go find a disabled person and ask them if they would rather be dead or have their disability. If you are hesitant to go up to someone and ask that question, ask yourself why you hesitate. Is it because maybe, you realize that it might be offensive? Well, it is. Mostly because it's ignorant to assume that a disability is worse than death. Ignorant literally meaning that you lack knowledge. So, educate yourself. Go talk to someone with a disability. Get to know them. Learn what their life is like, really like, and then maybe you will have a better understanding of this subject.

Let's discuss this suffering thing now. Name me everyone you know who is currently suffering with a disability. Ready, go. .................

Yeah, my list is about as long. People with Down Syndrome are not suffering. People with vision impairments are not suffering. People missing a limb are not suffering. People using wheelchairs are not suffering.When I think of "suffering" I think of people going through chemo treatments, and the havoc chemo and cancer can do to a person's body. But cancer isn't a disability. It's an illness. Chemo isn't a disability either. It's a treatment for cancer. Either of those might cause a resulting disability, but they aren't one. The person isn't suffering because of the disability but because of an illness or it's treatment. I think of someone who was just in a car wreck and how much pain they are in, the surgeries they might have to have, the broken bones, bruises. That, I would classify as suffering. But a car wreck isn't a disability. It might cause one, but it isn't one. It's an accident. And the car wreck is what caused the suffering, not the resulting disability. See the difference?

That's not to say that some of the things people with disabilities might go through don't stink. Many kids with Down Syndrome have to have open heart surgery. That is painful, no question. However, many kids without Down Syndrome have to have open heart surgery as well. The thing is, suffering, pain, hard things, aren't reserved for folks with disabilities. Suffering isn't something exclusive to the disabled club. People without disabilities go through sucky things too. People with vision impairments are not suffering from a vision impairment. They are LIVING with a vision impairment. Yes, it does suck sometimes having to navigate a world made for people who can see when you can't. I know this at least second hand from Christian. But does that equal suffering when he trips on a curb because he can't see himself approaching it? No, he tripped. He didn't suffer. I trip sometimes and I can see the curb coming. That isn't suffering. He is actually incredibly happy, loving, and cheerful, and when he trips, he picks himself back up and keeps going. Having a disability does not equal suffering, but, watch out, sometimes it causes tenacity and instills incredible strength.

I can explain one way having a disability does equate some secondary suffering. Social stigma. Can you imagine that just your appearance causes people to make a snap judgement about your value,your worth, what you can contribute to society, whether or not you should be ALIVE? Can you imagine a world where you are bullied simply because you look different, or walk differently, or do things slower than other people; simply because you aren't like everyone else? Well, welcome, because this is the world we live in. Having a disability automatically labels people in our society as "less than," less deserving, unequal, unattractive, awkward, unworthy, avoidable. Over something they didn't choose and have no control over.

That does create suffering among people with disabilities sometimes, and still, it isn't suffering caused by the disability. It's caused by people who choose to look down on or bully or stigmatize people with disabilities. The problem is the bullies, not the disability. The disabled folks can't stop being disabled, but the bullies could stop being jerks if they so chose. In other words, that is one type of suffering that could be ended immediately and forever if people would simply choose to end it.

Finally, I want to talk about just how little of a burden people with disabilities are on society. I was sitting in a Tennessee State legislature health sub committee meeting a few months ago, and a doctor was speaking. A bill's fiscal impact was being discussed. The topic of the bill isn't important at this point and I don't want it to distract from the issue at hand, but what he said rings true. A legislator said "When we are talking about human lives here, money can't be the most important consideration. Yes, we have to think about it, but it can't be priority number one."

I have heard so many times that Christian will be a "burden on society" because he will always live on government assistance. The funny thing is, people who are so uneducated to actually believe this don't realize that blind people can have jobs too. So can people with an array of other disabilities. What on earth makes people think that having a disabilities automatically means a person can't work? Christian is a higher belt in karate right now than most of you reading this, so how can you ever say "He can't" anything? Sure, there will be jobs he can't do. He can't be a NASCAR driver, or drive a taxi or be a surgeon, but I can think of a thousand jobs he could do! He could follow in my footsteps and be a lawyer if he wanted. I actually know a lawyer who is blind. We have never told Christian that he can't. He has no concept of the things he can't do! And it certainly isn't anyone else's place to start putting junk like that in his head right now. He can and he will, and so do so many other people with disabilities every single day.

And why is money the only thing people every consider when they think about what someone will "contribute to society?" What did Shakespeare ever contribute to the world financially? Picaso? Anne Frank? Mother Teresa? Mozart? Surely you are picking up what I am putting down here. Money isn't the only thing people can contribute to our society. There are so many people with disabilities that have done amazing things for our world, and surprisingly, some of the people I mentioned above had disabilities. Christian contributes joy, love, happiness, and completeness just to our family. I am sure so many other people could also name ways in which Christian has enriched their lives. (Anyone who wishes to share what he has contributed to your life, please feel free to do so in the comments section of this post if you'd like)

Overall, I think I can summarize everything I've said above with this: If you can say that a person with a disability should have been aborted or that they are better off dead or that they are suffering, then you obviously don't know anyone with a disability. You are simply uneducated, and so, I encourage you to get out there and meet someone with a disability. I promise you it will change you for the better.