Trig Palin Has Divided America
... A year ago, Palin gave birth to her youngest son, Trig, who has Down syndrome. Since then, mother and son have become objects of the left’s unrelenting scorn and the right’s unflinching fidelity.(emphasis added)
An underexamined reason why Palin is loved and loathed so fiercely is her intimate association with two of our most divisive issues: disability and the right to life.
With the introduction of universal prenatal genetic testing, as well as more sophisticated and less invasive testing methods, many disability rights advocates worry about what former Washington Post writer Patricia Bauer predicts could be “the elimination of an entire class of people.”
In the midst of these powerful trends stands Palin. She understands that discrimination against people with disabilities is fueled by ignorance of what it is like to be, and to care for, a person with a disability.
Her advocacy is validated by the waiting lists of couples ready to adopt children with Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities. And by the fact that those closest to people with disabilities are among the most vocal critics of universal prenatal genetic testing.
To many of the 400,000-plus Americans with Down syndrome and their families, Palin’s emergence marked the first time they felt their existence was embraced.
Palin is controversial, in part, because America is divided over disability. We’ve established laws and institutions that protect people with disabilities. But we also do everything we can to make sure they don’t see the light of day.
Trig is a reminder of our fierce ambivalence over disability. Every mention of his name is a pinprick to our conscience. Every photo of mother and son is a reminder of concepts — vulnerability, dependency and suffering — our culture no longer tolerates, as well as virtues, such as humility, dignity and self-sacrifice, it no longer extols.
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Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Michael Barone Tells Truth, Gets Booed, Then Claims He Was Only Joking