Category Archives: Viewpoint

The Disability Rights Movement Must Be Pro-Choice

The hardest thing about the current framing of the abortion debate for disability justice advocates is that it forces us to choose between two of our core convictions: Inherent human worth and bodily autonomy. As a disabled person, an asexual non-binary person who was assigned female at birth, and an activist, I hate the ideas and circumstances that have put these principles in opposition to each other. Still, the choice is easy for me to make. My nearly absolute belief in bodily autonomy means nothing if I’d support forcing a person to remain pregnant and give birth against their will for any reason because of my own opposition to eugenics. There’s no question that I, as an autistic person with a cleft lip and palate (among other disabilities), am among the types of disabled people impacted by what’s often referred to as disability-selective abortion. There are ongoing attempts to find a … Continue Reading ››

The Disability Rights Movement Should Be Pro-Life

I was conceived, unplanned, in Soviet occupied Latvia. I am also disabled. When I was born, I was born prematurely. I had deformed feet called "club feet" and I was very small. I was also  born with developmental disabilities. Because I was unwanted I was sent to an institutional orphanage in Riga, the capital of Latvia. I lived there for 5 years, until my American family was able to adopt me. I have lived in America for 23 years now and I love it here! I think of my birth mother a lot. I am thankful she let me live. She did not see my life as a life not worth living. In America, I learned that this is not true for all unwanted and disabled babies. There are pre-natal tests people can take to figure out if they baby is disabled, so parents can make a decision whether to abort … Continue Reading ››

Effective Altruism and Disability Rights are Incompatible

Earlier this month, members of the University of Victoria Effective Altruism Club were surprised to find themselves a target of protest as they hosted a talk from celebrity philosophy professor Peter Singer. After all, Singer is known worldwide for his views on animal rights and charitable giving. He was lecturing on the effective altruist movement, his effort to make charitable giving more effective by measuring impact and encouraging donors to shift their contributions to specific interventions in the developing world believed to have the lowest cost per life saved. And yet, for much of his career, Singer has been known for another reason: As the philosopher making the case for legalizing the murder of disabled infants. Throughout his career, Singer has been a critic of laws designed to protect disabled people. In his 1979 book, Practical Ethics, he made the case for allowing parents to kill children with spina bifida and … Continue Reading ››

In Defense of Effective Altruism

When I saw the recent protests by disability rights advocates of Peter Singer’s talk at an effective altruism club, I cringed. I support disability rights because I am a disabled person and I do, in fact, have a sense of self-interest. I support effective altruism because I was aware of all the suffering there was in the world and I felt powerless to actually do anything about it. Through evidence and reason, effective altruists try to figure out how ordinary people can best improve the world. We ask questions like “if you want people in the developing world to be better off economically, is it better to pay for deworming treatments because children without worms grow up to earn more money, or just to give them cash?” And “if you’re trying to do good, is it better to get a high-earning job so you can donate lots of … Continue Reading ››