That headline is inflammatory (and a direct quote from the press release I was reading) because the survey question pointed to very severe disabilities rather than all disabilities:
Which would you choose: Living with a severe disability that forever alters your ability to live an independent life, or death?
An interesting question, but it is clearly guiding people toward an answer. Theoretically, death doesn’t sound so bad when compared to being severely disabled ‘forever’!
So, a few thoughts:
- Most people who experience disability will not ‘forever’ lose their ability to lead an ‘independent’ life, whatever that means. We tend to take notice when that happens, of course, like in the cases of Joni Eareckson Tada or Christopher Reed. Many, many more people will experience short-term disability: broken limbs, sicknesses that keep them from work for weeks or months, etc.
- My son and a few other children and adults at Bethlehem have severe disabilities that permanently limit their ability for what Americans generally understand as an ‘independent’ life. But as I’ve written before, my boy probably “suffers” less than any person I know – so who has the better ‘quality of life,’ independent or not?
- Non-disabled Americans have no idea what life is really like for Americans with disabilities. Certainly there are hardships which any person living with a disability or a disabled family member can document. But that isn’t the whole story. Disability should not be the definition for whether that person has a meaningful life.
- Abortion statistics that exceed 70-90% for various kinds of disabling conditions aren’t a surprise when half of Americans don’t even want to consider disability for themselves, even in a theoretical sense. Killing elderly people or people with severe disabilities (meaning, the strong deciding what is best for the weak solely from the perspective of the strong) is already showing up around the world, and this statistic demonstrates why it is showing up in America.
- We are so arrogant, prideful, short-sighted and man-centered that we cannot even conceive of anything OTHER than an independent life as having worth.
Yet we know we are slaves to sin and only free if we cast every hope we have on a righteous, just, serving, holy, resurrected King:
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16