It was during the training on strengthening Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs) that one of the groups among the participants happened to discuss the measures to prevent the birth of Children with Disabilities. The trainer immediately responded and said it was a controversial topic as it may be against the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities and it questions their dignified existence. Preventing disability means the life of Persons with Disabilities is not worth or they do not live a life of dignity at present. As the Persons with Disability do not consider they are secondary or inferior to others, there is no question of talking about a world without Persons with Disabilities. The discussion went on. She added that it is alright talking about safe pregnancy and child birth.
It was hard to digest the argument at any level, even emotionally. It is true that all the causes of disability still remain to be unknown while there can be significant success in minimizing the birth of Children with Disability by taking care of mental and physical health care of childbearing women, proper post natal care, providing nutritious food for the children and early detection of issues of disability of the child etc. It is an indisputable fact that vast majority of the birth of the children with disability could be avoided through appropriate interventions.
To my mind there were several reasons not to be an advocate of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with regard to preventing the birth of Children with Disabilities. It is true that Persons with Disabilities have the right to live just like any other human being and any kind of discrimination towards them would be a grave violation of Human Rights. However the fact remains that all persons with disability could not enjoy the fullness of life not only due to the constraints of the world they are born but also due to the issues of disability which can be either physical or intellectual or the combination of both though disability is not a mere issue of deformity.
Even millions of Persons without Disability are deprived of basic necessities, a blatant violation of their Right to life. The predicament of Persons with Disability is worse when they belong to low income groups. It is obvious that poverty and disability remains to be a vicious circle. The predicament of Persons with Mental Illness, Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy, Visual Impairment and Multiple Disabilities is worse than Peoples with Locomotor disability, Hearing Impairment, Low Vision and Autism.
No one can deny the fact that Persons with Disability needs more care and protection from the vulnerabilities of the world. Millions of Persons with Disabilities including children do not even know about their Rights. Persons with Mental Illness or Mental Retardation may not even be able to articulate their Rights. It is truism to say that others speak on behalf of them. Even the advocates of inclusive society would agree that Persons with Disability struggles more than other vulnerable sections of the society to enjoy the fullness of life in the world where injustice, oppression, inequality and suffering prevail to be a great menace for the development and prosperity of humanity.
The question remains, can the advocates of the Rights Persons with Disabilities who are against taking preventive measures to minimize the birth of Children with Disabilities ensure the wellbeing of Persons with Disabilities of the future generations across the world living in multiple deprivations? What else guarantee a safe, free and prosperous life for millions of Persons with Disabilities living in bleak socio economic conditions? There may be few such people who enjoy better prospects due to their immense capacity to fight the barriers, supportive socio economic conditions or the special care they got from family, community and other organizations which are not a universal reality. What about the millions of others who are destined to struggle for their survival independently? Or on what ground can we consider life with disability a right or an inevitable reality such as gender, people with variety of cognitive abilities, skills, interests , color and statures?
Is it not practical to prevent disability for the known reasons and support the Persons who are born with disabilities for unknown or who became victims of unanticipated disasters, to fulfill their Rights and live a life of dignity and worth. Should we become so idealistic to argue that preventing birth of Children with Disabilities is against the Rights of Persons with Disabilities who are living among us? Wouldn’t it be better if medical science could eliminate all the causes of disabilities and every human being is born to this world at least without disabilities to add to his/her struggle for survival?