15 March, 2011

What is this, Nazism?

It's a sad, sad day, my friends, when we can ask that question without irony or hyperbole.

Two incidents have brought this especially to mind recently. The first involves the case of "P.", a 21 year old woman with learning disabilities. According to the article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2011; 342:d1112), P's mother, Mrs P, requested the sterilisation after P became pregnant for the second time:

P’s mother, Mrs P, told the judge that her daughter lived with her, and she and her children were being kept together as a family unit. “Obviously we can’t go on supporting more and more children,” she added.

She said her daughter had become pregnant quickly again with her second child and was likely to conceive again unless her tubes were tied. Any future babies would be taken away by social services because the family could not afford to raise them.

Fortunately, the judge adjourned the case until May because he felt he needed expert testimony. I say "fortunately" because this is an all-to-rare recognition that the most convenient solution might not be the most ethical, even when the person in question would possibly never know the difference. I agree with Mencap that "Unless there are clear medical grounds it is an invasion of someone's basic rights to enforce sterilisation and it is unacceptable if other methods of contraception are possible."

This is very, very slippery ground the court is treading, and as I said above, it comes perilously close to a valid comparison with Nazism. I'll be keeping a sharp eye come May, trust me.

Meanwhile, there is this horrifying statement by New Hampshire's governor, Martin Harty (R). From the article:

“I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population.” Omand said Harty appeared to be serious. After Omand responded that his idea sounded like what Adolf Hitler did in World War II, Omand said Harty responded, “Hitler did something right, and I agree with (it).”

Well, at least I don't have to make the comparison, he already did it for me.

23 February, 2011

This is just to say...

No, nothing about plums or iceboxes.

But I'm going to be making some changes here in the near future. There will be non-me contributors, which is the biggest news. I think this topic can benefit greatly from more interaction between scholars, so I've invited a couple colleagues to participate. We're going to be focusing less on grad student issues and more on the main topic - disability and impairment in the Middle Ages (and a little bit of the modern stuff, too). Hopefully we will evolve a solid blend of theoretical discussion, humour, news, and reviews.

The look will probably change some as well, but I hope that doesn't throw anyone off too wildly. I feel like the layout and design could be more accessible, so please bear with me/us as we settle back in.

To those intrepid few who have kept following all this time: thank you for your interest and/or inattention! Hope to see more of you soon!