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Noah, Henry, Black and White and Canadian All Over

Posted Apr 23 2012 11:49pm

Henry and Noah

This is the way my brain works and, perhaps, my soul, if a soul were to work.

There's a whole lot of hoopla in the disability world about what some call mercy killing and others call euthanasia, still others call murder and still others genocide, with the invocation of the Nazi's Action T-4. Most of the hoopla stems from recent stories in the news of mothers who have either killed their children with severe disabilities and themselves or advocate for such killing when they deem the circumstances desperate enough. I'm not going to give you my opinion on all of this outside of my firm belief that while I'm in no position to judge what leads people to such tragic acts, I can certainly hold understanding in my mind and soul for how it happens. And I think I'm sticking to that despite despite, I imagine, people's belief that I'm immoral for doing so.

I read a Canadian blogger today who took a loud stance on this issue and that led me to a few other bloggers (curiously, also Canadian) and lots of condemnation and drawing of parallel lines to being disabled oneself and there was some talk of racism and disability advocacy and very, very righteous anger. I'm no stranger to the righteous anger stance (wince), but this particular topic gives me so much pause that I am, effectively, on pause.

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I drove Henry and Noah home from school today and thought I'd ask them about it and see what they thought.

Me: So, guys. I've been reading on the internet about some pretty disturbing stuff and I'd like to hear what you think about it. What do you think of a person who has taken care of her severely disabled child for over thirty years and decides to kill that child and herself because she can't take it anymore? The adult child has very serious issues, including physical suffering and the mother has been doing this for many, many years without the proper support. She is also afraid that when she is unable to do so, her child will not be taken care of properly and might even be put in an institution. We also don't know what her mental state is, whether she's depressed or isolated -- what her upbringing might be -- you know.


Noah, aged 13, only child: That's so awful. I feel bad for her and the disabled person. I wouldn't do that; I wouldn't kill the child, I couldn't kill him, but it's just so awful.

Henry, aged 13, sibling to a 17 year old with severe disabilities: That's so awful. I feel so bad for that mother. I mean, killing is wrong, but I sort of get it. I don't think I could do it, but I sort of get it. Mom, is this a true story?

Reader, I don't know about you, but these thirteen year old responses spoke more honestly and clearly to me than all the words of the bright, impassioned minds of the internet, those in the trenches and out.

And that's perhaps all I'm going to say about that.

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