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Disability and the Right to Live, Reaction Paper Example

Pages: 3

Words: 695

Reaction Paper

Introduction

The philosophical argumentation between the author: McBryde Johnson, and Professor Peter Singer is covering thousands of years old debate. Some civilizations still use the method of killing disabled babies after birth, and the philosophical analysis of the problem is covering more than a “human rights” issue. The professor “wants to legalize the killing of certain babies who might come to be like me if allowed to live”. (p. 1.) The real debate is whether impaired individuals can be considered as “persons” or not. From the author’s perspective, an infant is not a person, however, they do have the opportunity within, no matter what disability they are affected by. The article reflects on the views of 150 undergraduate students and a dinner conversation with the professor.  Although the author of the article is a disability rights lawyer and the professor has a completely different view of  disability than she does, the argument is not heated, and both parties use calm reasoning methods.

Reflection

The question of allowing abortion, not infanticide, and withdrawal of life support, but not allowing euthanasia is soon arising. The main argument Singer uses to support the initiative to kill disabled babies and  “replace them with nondisabled babies who have a greater chance at happiness” seems to be completely wrong at the first sight. How can one individual determine how happy the baby would be? What would he say about the fulfilled lives of disabled people, Paralympics winners and those who provide inspiration for others through the achievements despite their disability? How would this relate to people who are born healthy, but suffer from Alzheimer disease? Should they all be killed? And should Professor Steven Hawking be simply put to death because of his illness? Is he not contributing enough towards the development of the physics and science? Can we say that his life is a misery and he is unhappy?

As the author is not a religious person, therefore her approach is based on the human rights legislation and comparison of people with or without disabilities. She creates an argument using analogies between her life and her brothers, and it is clearly visible that the argument would continue without any results. There are different studies showing that children with Down-syndrome would provide higher emotional satisfaction for parents, although taking care for them would be extremely difficult. Does this mean that all parents should care about is the ability to move, achieve and compete, and love, family values and acceptance should be eliminated from today’s society?

As a disability lawyer, the author does try to argue from the justice point of view, however, this is impossible. There is no “absolute” justice at all, and things one person does might appear acceptable and right for them, but completely unethical for other people. Determining which babies would need to be killed would be a huge problem. Although the law does allow parents to request abortion if a permanent disability or illness is detected in the embryo, but – as we all know – it is not always considered a human being. In 18 states of America, the laws even consider the fetus as a living creature. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act introduced in 2004 by the Bush government does admit the embryo’s right to live and killing it is a crime. Taking away the right to heal and develop would be the same as killing a person, who later got terminally or permanently ill and disabled. As from an outsider’s perspective, there are various problems with both arguments. No matter if parents would be allowed to kill disabled babies or not, the decision would still be “human”, therefore never perfect. Determining the level of disability and creating guidelines based on rational evaluations is against human nature and family values. Singer has created a framework for the society that does not count with the human nature of individuals. The ability of hope, love and care is what makes humans “homo sapiens”, and without this aspect, scientists would have long ago developed a system to better the human race by leaving only kids with exceptional abilities alive.

References

McBryde Johnson, H.  (2003) Unspeakable Conversations. In: New York Times. Thu, 20 Feb 2003

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