Category Archives: 2012

Bloggposts posted in 2012

Assisted Dying in Canada


Christopher A. Riddle, Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Director of the Institute of Applied Ethics, Utica College, NY, USA, email: 

Nearing the end of 2011, The Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on EndofLife Decision Making released a detailed report exploring both the feasibility as well as desirability of making assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia legally permissible.  A report with similar recommendations was also released not long after by a Select Committee of the Quebec National Assembly on Dying with Dignity.  Both reports, while strongly recommending palliative care, ultimately suggested that assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia should be legally permissible.  This has understandably sparked a heated debate across the country.  My intention here is to support, albeit briefly, the findings of these reports.  While there are many objections to these reports, including, but not limited to the legal, religious, and medical, I will focus on what I view to be the most common concern expressed by disability theorists and advocates.

Margaret Somerville, a Catholic, legal scholar at McGillUniversity, expressed a concern in Canada’s National Post that seems to be echoed throughout disability literature on the topic. Continue reading

What about Global South?

ImageHisayo Katsui, Senior Researcher, Institute for Human Rights, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Following the United Nations (UN) Decade of Disabled Persons between 1983-1992, the first African Decade of Persons with Disabilities started in 1999 and ended in 2009. The first Continental Plan of Action of the African Decade states in its Introduction, “The UN Decade of Disabled Persons had its successes and failures…its successes which were more pronounced in the northern hemisphere than elsewhere.” This was the primary reason why the Asia and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002), the Arab Decade of Disabled Persons (2003-2012), and the African Decade started. Both the Asia and Pacific and the African Decades were extended for another decade. Now that more than 110 countries around the globe have ratified the Convention, has there been significant positive change in the lives of persons with disabilities at grass roots in the global South? This writing is related to what Tom Shakespeare addressed and further provoked by Kristín Björnsdóttir but in the context of global South. Continue reading

From Prenatal screening to “After birth abortion”

ImageRóisín Dermody, independent researcher and disability activist, Dublin, Ireland

Abortion is a highly contentious issue when the debate focuses on a woman’s right to choose and the right to life of the unborn child.  However, when the decision to abort is based on the detection of an impairment during prenatal screening, the debate takes on a whole new perspective. And now, we are asked to consider the case of “After birth Abortion”.

On the 23rd February 2012, the Journal of Medical Ethics published an article by  Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva which advocates for “after birth abortion” on the basis that:

1. Neither foetuses nor newborns have the same moral status as actual persons,

2. The fact that both are potential persons is morally irrelevant and

3. Adoption is not always in the best interest of actual people.

Continue reading

Blogging Against Disablism Day 1st May 2012

 Hannah Morgan, Lecturer in Disability Studies, Lancaster University, UK

1st May is celebrated throughout the Nordic countries and beyond as a day of celebration and activism linked to our shared heritage in the international labour movement.  Since 2006 it has also become Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD) coordinated by Diary of a Goldfish (1). The purpose of the day is to raise ‘awareness of inequality, promote equality and celebrate the progress we’ve made’.  As a discipline, an inter-disciplinary area of study or community of practice (depending on your perspective, we are nothing if not a broad church) Disability Studies has much to celebrate and affirm. Continue reading

Pride versus blame: reflections on neurodiversity

ImageSimo Vehmas, Professor of Special Education, University of Jyväskylä, Finland, President of NNDR

In this blog entry, I will discuss very briefly two related and controversial questions that, in my view, arise from the neurodiversity perspective: first, whether neurodiversity has an organic basis, and secondly, whether it is a significant factor regarding responsibility for one’s actions.

Many neurodiversity activists argue that, for example, autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are real conditions, with an organic basis (while some neurodiversity/anti-psychiatry activists say exactly the opposite). Autism, for example, is a matter of different form of brain wiring, something that is very much real and has consequences to one’s behavior. In this respect, neurodiversity has a somewhat different outlook on disability than disability studies perspective, which emphasizes primarily the social nature of the definition of bodily and mental differences. Some scholars and thinkers representing a ‘postmodern’ viewpoint go as far as questioning the definite reality of impairment: everything’s socially constructed, so it makes no sense to talk about impairments as ‘real entities’ that exist independently of our interpretations about them. Continue reading

“Our biggest worry was it could be born a Tory…”; disabled parents on TV!

Philippa Rieck, PhD researcher, Strathclyde Centre for Disability Research, University of Glasgow, UK

Channel 4 in the UK has currently been running the very popular ‘One Born Every Minute’ which attempts to show the ‘real life drama’ that occurs in the labour ward. The show is pivoted on the notion that it represents ‘every day women’s’ experiences of childbirth and of the maternity ward. Whilst interviewing a participant for my PhD research around the experience of citizenship and the body she said “You know that programme one born every minute, well you don’t see any disabled women on it having babies do you? Do disabled people just not have kids…if that show is filmed over a year in a maternity hospital then where are the disabled people?”. Most of the women I spoke to made some kind of reference to the lack of knowledge around disability and pregnancy which has, for them, resulted in a built up fear and a real feeling of exclusion from this realm. Continue reading

Disability Knowledge on the Road Ahead: thoughts from a conference in Denmark


Bjarne Bjelke Jensen, Consultant, The National Resource Centre on Disability and Social Psychiatry, Denmark

On February 9th 2012, a rather unique event took place in Denmark. The Danish “Resource Centre on Disability and Social Psychiatry” arranged a conference on knowledge arenas in the disability field in the years to come – mainly with reference to the intersection of research and practice.

The purpose of the conference was to place disability into a larger perspective than is usually the case in a Danish context, where we have no real disability studies environment. The Danish NNDR network is the closest thing to an entity trying to connect the various social research entries in the disability field. Entries, that tend to be singular projects, somewhat isolated. Continue reading

Current trends for people with intellectual disabilities in Sweden

Magnus Tideman, Professor of disability research, University of Halmstad, Sweden

The changes that have taken place for persons with intellectual disabilities in Sweden from the beginning of the 1990s until today are characterised by a number of clear trends. Institutional living has been replaced by residential arrangements with special service or the possibility for individuals to live in apartments of their own in ordinary residential areas, the level of variation in support and service depending on the city/town/area in which individuals live has increased, and private companies are becoming increasingly involved within the disability care sector. At the same time, there has been a significant increase in the number of people being categorised as intellectually disabled, as well as an increasing level of resistance among young adults against being viewed as passive care receivers. Continue reading

Ableism and Ability Studies

Gregor Wolbring, Associate professor, Dept. of Community Health Sciences, Program in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, University of Calgary, Canada,

As I see it, the theoretical framework and analytical lens of Ableism is a gift from the disabled people rights movement and disability studies to the social sciences and humanities.

I self-identify as a disability studies scholar, a science and technology studies scholar and an ability-cultural researcher (cultural research on ability preferences exhibited by individuals and societies). Ability expectations and preferences are one dynamic through which members of a group judge others and themselves and their lives. Ability preferences and judgments are at the root of many rules of behaviours and customs.  Every disability studies scholar is in my eyes also an ability-cultural researcher. Continue reading

Death by a thousand cuts


Jackie Leach Scully, Reader in Social Ethics and Bioethics, Newcastle University, UK

Conversations among disabled people in Britain these days circle round and round one topic: the government and what it is doing to us.  And those conversations are full of anxiety and anger. As many readers of this blog will know, the coalition government that came into power in 2010 set off what it calls a reform of welfare provisions, announced (apparently with pride) as the most extensive since the welfare state came into being in 1945.  “Reform” here should be read as “cuts”: there is no hiding the fact that the aim isn’t to make the present system better, but to reduce public spending. And although all areas of welfare are under scrutiny, it’s also clear that disabled people are disproportionately under attack. Continue reading