Sept./Oct., 1998
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My fantasy lawsuit

I enjoyed Lisa Blumberg's article on "Reproductive Technology and the Threat to Diversity" ("The Bad Baby Blues," July/August). Blumberg hits all the important and troubling issues surrounding genetic counseling and discriminatory abortion.

I'm an attorney with a disability rights firm in Denver and write to add a comment from the civil rights perspective: That which one can do legally (firing an employee) can be illegal when done for a discriminatory reason (firing an employee because she's African-American).

By the same logic, even though abortion is legal, aborting a fetus because she/he/it is disabled should be illegal under laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. There is no question that this practice has a disparate impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

The chief legal problem is that there is no one with standing to bring the case: all of the potential plaintiffs are, by definition, dead - and their parents, who elected this course, cannot be relied upon to represent the interests of their (potential) offspring. Naturally, the U. S. Attorney General could sue, but that is unlikely in this administration. My fantasy lawsuit is brought by an enlightened state attorney general against a hospital or clinic under the ADA or Rehabilitation Act for disability discrimination through genetic counseling and discriminatory abortion.

Any takers?

Amy Robertson

Fox & Robertson, P.C.


Sickening website

As the mother of a four-year-old daughter with Down syndrome whom I was pressured to abort after prenatal testing, I applaud the articles you have chosen to publish ("A Paean to Eugenics"; " The Bad Baby Blues"). I was already familiar with the eugenicist websites Mary Wilt wrote of; they sickened me just as they did her.

Along with a few other parents, I help maintain a website devoted to educating parents-to-be about children with disabilities, and to encourage them not to abort their unborn children due to "birth defects."

To access our website, please go to: http://www.angelfire.com/ ca/numberslady

Thank you again for two wonderful articles!

Marion Baumer

PRENATAL DIAGNOSIS: Information & Personal Stories Website


Sonogram was wrong

We were told by numerous sonograms that our baby had Down syndrome, and also had hypoplastic left heart. They sent me home to make funeral arrangements for after the birth, or to decide to "Interrupt" at month seven.

Katie has only a murmur. The sonogram was wrong. She has Down syndrome and is a wonderful gift to our family. I teach music in two schools with a large population of Down syndrome children. They are the joy of my week. I don't have the heart to look at any of the suggested websites. These parents don't know the joy they have robbed the world of.

Don't get me wrong: Katie has had her share of the medical world - 20 surgeries, mostly esophageal and intestinal, but it's all fixed now and she is eight. If the parents felt they could not deal with raising these children, there are many who would have been glad to adopt these babies and not rob them of the life that was started. My best friend is single and has adopted 2 children with Down syndrome.

Patricia McKown

Decatur, IL


I just wanted to extend my praise to her for such a well-written and accurate article. Thank you for publishing it.


A 'horrid crime' - and a birthday party

I was born with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and developed Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) about the age of 10. Under Missouri and federal definitions both my sister and I are "developmentally disabled."

A lot of people opposed my married sister's planned pregnancy last year as a horrid crime - due the possibility she could pass her "defective" genes on. Rachael has EDS, FMS, Hashimoto's hypothyroid disorder, reactive hypoglycemia and malignant hyperthermia. (She jokes that we were born in the shallow end of the gene pool with the sharks. They had to do an emergency C- Section seven and a half weeks early to save her life).

Yesterday I went to Andrew's first birthday party. He would have a loving and understanding family if he did have EDS, but he is one of the healthiest children I've ever seen. Since they had prepared for a child with disabilities and got a healthy, non-gimped, blond-haired, blue-eyed Aryan baby, now they are talking about trying to adopt a little girl with EDS from Russia.

Heather De Mian

Kansas City

Not the Reeve Foundation I know

I read with interest Mary Johnson's "A Summer Exercise for the Imagination" (July/August), as well as the story on Christopher Reeve's interview with Greg Smith of On A Roll ("D.R. Nation," July/August). I'd like to believe Reeve is not trying to mislead people when he said that "30 percent of what we take in we give to, uh, groups, um, to enhance the quality of life." I wonder if this was an overt attempt to silence his critics or mislead the disability community? Was he referring to the National Organization on Disability, or his Christopher Reeve Foundation?

I seriously doubt he was referring to the Reeve Foundation. I contacted them seeking funding for my academic research on the social situation of disabled people; I received a polite but firm letter stating that the goal of the Reeve Foundation was the CURE for paralysis (emphasis theirs), and that work such as mine would not be considered.

If Mr. Reeve is truly interested in forging a closer association with the disability community, he needs to broaden his horizons. His total focus on cure, while personally satisfying, will not win him friends among disability rights activists nor those who are struggling to make ends meet.

William J. Peace

Katonah, NY

Wants contact with other homeowners on Medicaid

I am a working person on Medicaid. I have CP and use a wheelchair. I rely on Medicaid for personal aides.

I have been working at my job for 20 years; I own a very modest home, complete with a morgage and other expenses. I, along with many others must pay Medicaid a repayment or spendown; I pay $280.00 per month. I live in Buffalo, NY area and am trying to get in touch with other working disabled homeowners on Medicaid.

I have contacted my local ILC and area Medicaid experts, with no luck. I know there must be other,who have faced the same problem. I have not found anyone to talk to about this issue. I feel very isolated and frustrated! I have worked very hard to keep my home.

Please contact me by mail at: PGR-SW@webtv.net


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