HomeabelismDoes Prevention Equal Abelism?

Vaccination is a pretty big button for a lot of people.

There are still a lot of people who think common childhood vaccinations like the MMR increase the likelihood of autism, while others are dead set on telling everyone about herd immunity and why everyone should be vaccinated against seemingly everything. Then, of course, there’s the minority that feels that most childhood vaccines are necessary, but others, like flu and chicken pox, shouldn’t be required for various reasons.

In one of the uglier online debates I came across, one person accused the person who’s against vaccination of being abelist, because they were using the autism argument for their point.

For those who are new to the term, abelism is prejudice against people with any type of perceived disability.

That bit of name calling got me thinking.

Are preventative measures against developmental or learning disabilities a form of abelism, or is it purely a protective action against potential suffering? The more I think about it, the more the answer lies in the action involved, the situation and the true motives.

Here are a couple examples I’m thinking of.

Lead
One of the things that exposure to lead can encourage is learning disabilities and neurological conditions. Prolonged exposure to high levels of lead can even result in death. That’s why there are legal controls in place regarding lead in products and paint, today.

However, say you have young children, and need to move. The only place you can afford was built before 1950. Since it was built before those regulations are in place, and there’s been relatively few updates made, you’re informed that there is lead paint in the house.

This isn’t a particularly controversial choice in most circles, though there are reasons not to get rid of the lead.

Expense is one of them, since it costs money to get the kits to do testing and lab work. If there is lead, then you need to hire someone to safely dispose of it and then invest in new paint, or to get your landlord to do so. Not all families can afford it or the landlord may not want to put forth the expense.

Of course, if the landlord is doing everything to the letter of the law, then this wouldn’t be an issue, but there are quite a few out there who don’t. That leaves the renter little choice but to either live with the lead, or try to take care of it themselves.

If you go through the lengthy process to test the environment for lead, and remove it to protect your children, are you acting out of fear and lack of understanding about LD, or are you purely protecting your little ones?

Pregnancy Safety Measures
When most people get pregnant, they will do anything to prevent harm to the fetus, be it abstaining from certain things or having someone else clean the litter box. (Let’s face it, that last one is part of pregnancy I’m looking forward to whenever it happens.) 

If a pregnant person was to partake in most of these activities, it’s not certain they’ll miscarry. The primary reason these constraints are in place is to prevent certain disabilities and defects. If they can prevent their baby from suffering later on in life, why wouldn’t they? On the one hand, that’s perfectly understandable, but on the other, is that care actually rooted in the fear of having a disabled child?

If you want to prevent a disability, does that mean that you have a lower view of those who already have disabilities?

The question of whether the motivation behind a preventative action is abelist or not needs to be addressed on a case by case basis. In most instances, however, these preventative actions protect against a range of things, as well. Lead poisoning can also lead to death, certain behaviors during pregnancy can lead to later breathing problems and vaccinations can have a variety of side effects beyond those that are neurological.

This is something that needs to be addressed by every individual. Raising any child should be a rewarding experience, whether they have some sort of perceived disability or not. Parenting isn’t an easy job, and each parent must do what they think is best for their children.

If you, as an individual, are taking actions solely to prevent a particular type of disability or wiring, it may be time to take a look back and figure out why you feel the way you do about that issue.

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