You might have noticed on Twitter this morning that I’m not in my normal frame of mind – after holding off for several sleepless nights I took some lorazepam last night. It normally leaves me slightly groggy the next day, but today I feel as though I’m still asleep, I actually start dreaming a little if I close my eyes and switch between topics in writing that may or may not even be real. (An example, on trying to explain that I dreamed I was watching myself move the mouse so my computer wouldn’t go to sleep, then forcing my eyes open “and realised he was in danger”, which was referring to another waking dream I’d recently had about a kid who I’d suddenly realised was running into a road. Actually I’d meant to say that my mouse was nowhere near my hand, even though I’d seen myself holding it.)
Anyway, basically it all means that I’m not feeling the most able person today. It doesn’t help that I’ve woken up with a stiff elbow for the last few nights, the outside of my left ankle has been sore since Monday, and my some of the muscles in my back have tightened right up.
Then somebody on Twitter linked to this. (Warning! Contains Michael Laws.) Michael Laws is a Whanganui DHB board member. And here we have a conversation , prompted by his public statements, in which he abuses a member of the public whose son has Downs Syndrome, calling her a nutter and monstrous for inflicting in the child on everyone else. Notice also the time stamps on those messages. It can be hard to match them up but it seems this conversation took place over two days. After telling her to bugger off the night before, he returned the next afternoon to tell her he’d abort a foetus who tested positive for DS, then he tells her to fuck off and not contact him again.
This is such a perfect illustration of the things I’ve talked about on this blog. Downs Syndrome is one of those disabilities where a lot of people (not of course all, sadly) who have it CAN achieve quite a lot – and at the same time, happiness and amiability are defining characteristics. We are not out of the eugenics woods. As it is, I do support all testing for potential problems in utero, but I think parents should get plenty of information on ALL their options, including talking to other parents who kept their Downs Syndrome children and can tell them what to expect, and if possible/available talking to people with Downs Syndrome as well. I don’t advocate abortion based on disability, I just want parents to know what they’re getting in for because I feel that that will help to mitigate some of the cases of neglect and mistreatment the disabled population can face at the hands of their carers.
I’m trying not to cry right now because this is how it is. Our bodies are up for public debate and people like Michael Laws feel like they have the right to say whether or not we should be allowed to live. Helen Clark introduced many new measures to improve the lives of the disabled, and now they’re being eroded away through the mediocre sums offered us to live on and debates over building accessibility in the building codes. We got our first disabled MP in 2011 and it doesn’t seem to have done anything. (No shade on Mojo, who is doing a great job in a hostile environment.)