Eugenic Arguments in the Times

23 Nov

Today’s Times carries an article that suggests that people with learning difficulties should not be allowed to have children because it would cost to much to support them. The children would suffer and some of these parents are also autistic “which will make loving and consistent parenthood extremely difficult.”

The article is confused and wrong in so many ways. I do not have the time to take it on right now but I hope people can read it and add their comments.

12 Responses to “Eugenic Arguments in the Times”

  1. almandite November 23, 2009 at 03:41 #

    A while ago, PEOPLE had an excellent article about an Intellectually Disabled mom raising her daughter. I read it in the waiting room for my doctor, actually. I was impressed–not so much by the feat, but by the respectful tone of the article and the use of the phrase “intellectually disabled”.

    I found it!,,20314177,00.html

  2. Joseph November 23, 2009 at 13:40 #

    There’s no evidence that autistics are poor parents. This is the sort of thing that people find intuitive, but intuitive is not the same as real or probable.

    Even if autistics were poor parents, it would still be unethical to impose who can and who cannot have children. Lots of people might be assumed to be poor parents for all sorts of reasons.

    If autism and developmental disabilities are non-adaptive, I don’t think there’s any reason for humans to artificially meddle with the gene pool. Nature will make sure that adaptive traits are most prevalent. Humans can err in this. Nature really cannot.

  3. betsbetsbets November 23, 2009 at 20:05 #

    Is the British designation of an “LD” different from the US designation? Here in the US, a child is diagnosed with a learning disability when their level of performance deviates from their full scale IQ score. In other words, if a child’s IQ score is in the average/ above average range, but their ability to perform is not commensurate, they’re staffed as “SLD” (Specific Learning Disabled). Even children who are labeled as “Gifted” can also be diagnosed with a learning disability. Am I safe to assume the author is speaking of people who are severely mentally handicapped?

    That being said, having worked in education for going on 17 years, poor parenting has relatively little to do with IQ and more about the level of involvement and interest a parent takes in a child’s life.

  4. Dedj November 23, 2009 at 20:16 #

    UK ‘Learning Disability’ usually equates to cognitively disabled/ mentally retarded/ intellectually disabled. Usually applied only to congenital or developmental conditions and not acquired or traumatic impairments.

    Specific Learning Difference/difficulty (SpLD) is dyslexia, dyscalculia etc or what used to be termed Special Needs or Special Educational Needs (SEN is still used to describe the adaptive needs). This obviously got confusing when people with mild and moderate Learning Disabilities were increasingly mainstreamed in the 90’s.

  5. Mike Stanton November 23, 2009 at 20:17 #

    The terminology keeps changing but the categories remain the same. Last time I looked intellectual impairment was recognized in all those with an IQ less than 70. 56 to 69 equals moderate learning difficulties. anything less than 56 is severe.

  6. betsbetsbets November 23, 2009 at 20:32 #

    Thanks Dedj and Mike Stanton for the clarification. Here in the Florida educational system, at least, a person with an IQ below 70 is referred to as having an Intellectual Disability. That designation is often broken down further into Educable Mentally Handicapped, Trainable Mentally Handicapped and Profound Mentally Handicapped.

    I worked for many years with both SLD and EMH children. I often found that many of the EMH students were some of my best students and what they lacked in cognitive ability, they more than made up for in sheer dogged persistence.

  7. Calli Arcale November 23, 2009 at 21:00 #

    My dad, when he was practicing medicine, was a family practitioner. He did a lot of pediatrics. (Also OB, also geriatrics. Cradle to grave care.) Anecdotally, he found that his learning disabled patients were among the best, most attentive parents. He attributed this to their ability to pay more attention and to take instructions more seriously. They’d actually *listen* when he told them something about their child, while the majority of his patients would smile, nod, and then go do whatever they were going to do anyway.

    Now, it’s quite possible that his learning disabled patients were just really great people and that the experience doesn’t apply generally. But it was interesting, and definitely taught me not to judge disabled parents. Being a parent is hard work, but not really complicated work. As long as you’re committed, you can do it. That’s the challenging part.

  8. betsbetsbets November 23, 2009 at 21:34 #

    This article does open up a real Pandora’s box: if the author is concerned about Intellectually Disabled persons passing on their genetic traits to their children (and incurring huge costs in terms of monitoring, assistance, etc.) then why stop there? Huntington’s chorea, ALS, Parkinson’s and a host of other conditions can also be detected via DNA testing. Do we then prohibit people with those (potential) disorders from procreating? What about depression, bipolarism, etc?

  9. farmwifetwo November 24, 2009 at 15:42 #

    I read the article and I can’t figure out where everyone’s claiming that she says these traits shouldn’t be passed on. Now where did I read her claim that eugenics was necessary…. no where.

    What I read was whether or not it was financially feasable and socially responsible. As she mentioned about the 2 disabled parents – the mother was blind – with 2 children (I think) who received 24/7 care… YET!!! People from the same agency, people with severe difficulties, could not get services due to the sheer cost of this couple and their family.

    Is it society’s responsibility to raise children born to people that cannot care for themselves??

    If you remove children from homes of “NT” people for that very reason why is it no socially acceptable to do it from homes of parents with severe disabilities that cannot care 100% for themselves?

    Why is one different than the other?? Just because you can have children, doesn’t give you the right to do so. I have an online friend that thinks sex just happens, you can’t stop it and therefore this new US Health Bill should pay for abortions… abstaining doesn’t work… HUH!!! We’re not animals… if we were, rape would be legal. It is your responsibility to raise your children, not societies. It is your responsibility to clothe them, feed them, school them, take them to appointments, etc etc etc…. why is it my responisibility to pay for people to do this for you in your home?? Because you have a disability….. why does this make you different than anyone else.

    NOW, if you have a disability, you can care for yourself, you have a job, a social network, supports…. I have no issues, not one… but I’m not paying $$$$$$$ to keep a child in a disabled persons home on my tax dollar, when it can be spent to help my disabled child.

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