The stigma rooted around disability is a deep one and it is not uncommon for society to doubt whether people with disability can truly live a “good life”. Add to that the struggle for reproductive health and rights that females around the world still face, you get stories like that of Nicole Lee.
Already a mother of two children, Lee has suffered callous treatment at the hands of society and medical practitioners both, just by the virtue of being disabled. Recently, she came into the limelight with a tweet illustrating how her motherhood is questioned, whereas the decision to abort is unquestioned and even considered the right one for her. While many other individuals with disability have previously raised their voices about the lack of awareness and empathy that the world has, her’s is gaining momentum now. Her scorn for well-meaning but largely ignorant concern about parenting with disability has come into the focus when the present-day feminist movement is in full swing. Lee and many others like her are considered part of the sisterhood yet their rights and needs have been neglected for so long.
In her account of her previous pregnancies and abortion, her decision to be pregnant with disability had brought her and her family in the line of fire. While unwanted opinions and judgement was plenty at that time, there was no one who wanted to help in any way. On the other hand, when she went to a medical facility to get an abortion, no one even batted an eye when even there are such pro-life arguments on the rise everywhere. In fact, the lack of basic care and concern for a woman who is going through such a tough decision was not offered to her.
This gap between how a disabled pregnant woman is treated as compared to the non-disabled ones is very distinct and upsetting. We are growing as a society that is still learning to be understanding and accepting of the colorful diversities that people come in. Yet, this dismissal of the physical and emotional needs along with the sexuality of disabled people is an indicator of how we are still lacking. When we talk of women having the autonomy and making the choice for their bodies, why do we forget to count the women with disability? Pregnancy and motherhood are not an impossible dream for disabled women, it is just as much a right as it is for them to abort. The society needs to do better and in the words of Lee herself, “The choice to start seeing and including us is up to you.”