Disability as a status symbol

Moving towards a model where the only people who can afford to have profoundly disabled children are the ultra-rich would benefit society in general. This post was inspired by the Twitter dramatics involving Sophia Weaver and her mother. Though not the most eloquent, the Twitter troll did have an interesting point: that it would benefit society to force parents to pay out-of-pocket for any medical resulting from refusing to abort a fetus known to have medical problems. Here are some advantages of such a policy:

Decreased burden on the health care system

According to the article, the Sophia Weaver has had 22 surgeries, a feeding tube, colostomy bag, seizures and choking spells and will never be able to speak or live a normal life. She requires 24/7 nursing care. The argument goes that the life of someone with a disability is not worth less than the life of someone without. But is their life worth 10x more? 100x more? Then why should the health care system spend 100x+ more on them?

More respect for the disabled

If the only people who can afford disabled children are the ultra-rich, then people born with disabilities will become increasingly rare. And because their parents will be, say, the Kardashians, they’ll also become prized status symbols. Being a status symbol might get disabled people more respect. Knowing that all their medical expenses are being paid for by their family, and not by the government will also help.

Better quality of life for more families

People may feel guilty if they decide to abort a less than perfect fetus. But if it were clear all medical expenses would be paid out of pocket, they wouldn’t have to feel badly about it: policy is forcing them to do so. The quality of life for the family would be much better without the disabled child: less worry, less stress, more disposable income and freedom.

Discourages selfishness

I would not want my worst enemy to live the life Sophia Weaver has been forced into. While I’m sure her family is doing everything they can for her, the initial choice to make her live like this was cruel. Her parents didn’t want to give up their child, so a lifetime of feeding tubes, seizures, colostomy bags, choking spells and an inability to ever develop language is what she has to look forward to. It should not be possible for anyone to choose such a life for another person.

Unwilling taxpayers don’t have to be complicit

Federal money can’t be spent on abortions because some taxpayers have religious beliefs against abortion. Similarly, those taxpayers who have moral or philosophical objections to forcing a disabled child to live will not have to be complicit if medical expenses have to be paid out of pocket. Those who support the decisions of parents like the Weavers can start their own insurance fund, and any form of public insurance can exclude abnormalities detected in-utero as “pre-existing”.

Tangentially related note: the tweet that Natalie Weaver had removed is a perfect example of how “hate speech” is often nothing more than speech we disagree with — it read

“It is okay to think that every child matters however a lot of them do not. Hence the amnio test…should be a mandatory test and if it proves negative and the woman does not want to abort then all bills accrued after that is on her and the father.”

It’s an opinion about policy. It doesn’t come close to Twitter’s definition of hate speech, which involves promoting violence or making direct attacks or threats.

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