Thursday, June 12, 2008

An Appreciation

... of why disability rights advocates mourn the death of Harriet McBryde Johnson:

Ms. Johnson, an atheist, was unmoved by religious appeals to life’s sanctity. Instead, her rebuttal boiled down to a simple: How dare you? How dare you decide that certain people with limitations are nonpersons with no right to exist? How dare you presume to define “quality of life,” for me or anyone else, to set the value of a disabled life lower than yours, or to conclude that such a life lacks the potential for happiness and dignity because you cannot imagine how it could?

The disabled certainly suffer. But everyone does, Ms. Johnson argued, and if the disabled face extra hassles and indignities in life, well, remedies for those things are all possible, and should be provided. Instead, the world is run by and for the nondisabled, and those who don’t measure up are infantilized, ignored and stockpiled in institutions that Ms. Johnson called “the disability gulag.” She feared being sent to it in her later years.

Read "A Life of Quality" by Lawrence Downes in the June 12th, 2008 New York Times.

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