A recent commentary by Justin Salisbury on the “Ongoing eugenics against disabled Vermonters” pointed out that Vermont has no law protecting parents against losing their children simply because they are disabled. Disability does not automatically mean that a parent can’t safely raise a child.
The current situation of disabled people in family law reflects society’s impression that those of us with a disability are incompetent, that we need to have decisions made for us by able bodied people who are just assumed to be so much more competent. Why is it that the disability community, which is quite large, is so often ignored even when our rights are at risk and our experience can provide valuable insight on an issue?
Is it because so few of us are activists? Is the dearth of activists itself a result of so many of us having internalized the view that to be disabled is to be incompetent until proven otherwise?
The marginalization of disabled people often plays a role in public health policy. It makes it easy, for example, to adopt policies which ignore the fact that Covid is an ongoing mass disabling event. Despite the fact that an estimated 10% to 30% of Covid patients may experience disabling long Covid—even if their Covid infections didn’t produce severe symptoms — we have not seen fit to fund research and resources for these people.
Disabled people need to be listened to, learned from and truly included in all policies and practices.