“physically incapacitated” or “mentally defective” don’t make me choose!

Our eugenics history is not a thing of the past.

In our provinical election many  Albertans in wheelchairs can not get into their polling stations to cast their vote.

The Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada calls upon Elections Alberta, elected officals and Canadians to make changes to policy and the Elections Act to stop excluding and creating barriers for persons with disabilities.

Albertans with disabilities, particularly those in wheelchairs, are unable to cast their ballots at several polling stations in Alberta on Election Day. The Elections Alberta website provides voter information about where to vote, but when some Albertans sought information about their polling stations they discovered that they could not get access to voting stations. Voters in wheelchairs throughout our province are unable to participate at the polls due to the lack of accessible polling stations. Elections Alberta Operations Director, Drew Westwater explains that while advanced polling stations were wheelchair accessible, the polling stations selected for Election Day, April 23, are not.

Alberta voters can find out about their polling stations using the Elections Alberta website, as one Edmonton woman did: “I happened to check on Voter link to find out where I can vote. The website happily told me the poll station address, and furthermore informed me that it is not wheelchair accessible. That was it. No link. No instructions. No clue that I could still possibly cast a ballot in this election. After four phone calls and almost two weeks, I finally was able to find out about, and negotiate a way to vote, by mail-in ballot”

The Elections Act 88.1 (96) Voter Assistance section, informs voters that they can vote using a mail in ballot – A wheelchair athlete in Edmonton requested a mail in ballot and discovered “I received this ballot today, and in order to vote, I actually have to self-identify, by check mark, as “physically incapacitated”…. have we really come that far from “mentally defective” (the term used to differentiate, institutionalize and sterilize thousands of Albertans from 1929 – 1972 under the Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act)?”

Alberta’s eugenic history influences our attitudes towards individuals with disabilities and differences, as our electoral process demonstrates. People with disabilities and vulnerable Albertans are being treated in exclusionary ways. The wheelchair athlete who is trying to participate explains: “… in order for my vote to count. I need to plan 2 weeks ahead. Navigate an unclear and difficult to manoeuvre electoral system. And self-identify with words that lack any dignity… words and ideas that I have spent my adult life fighting against. And this extra electoral burden is put upon the time and bodies of folks who are already forced to spend more energy and time to navigate other inaccessible and disabling structures.”

The effects of our eugenics past are present in our contemporary attitudes towards individuals with disabilities and the language that is required. The extra electoral burden placed upon individuals who are already forced to spend more time and energy to navigate so many other inaccessible and disabling structures such as housing, public spaces, transportation issues and more, is unacceptable.

As Mr Westwater said, the advanced polling stations throughout Alberta are wheelchair accessible but he could not explain why ALL polling stations are not accessible. Who else is excluded from our electoral process? How can our provincial government continue to exclude Albertans in our electoral process? Why do elected officials insist upon using language that treats its citizens without respect and dignity?

Instead of placing the burden upon those who already face multiple barriers as persons with disabilities, we need to place the responsibility upon elected officials to ensure all public spaces are accessible for all members of the public and create inclusive policies that guarantee electoral participation for all Albertans.

To find out if your polling station is accessible go to: http://wtv.elections.ab.ca/wtWhereDoIVote.cfm?MID=WH1

Write or call the candidates in your riding and after the election call again!  The fight for inclusive communities can not be left to those who already face so many barriers – all of us must work towards change!

Remember to Vote on April 23, 2012 – if you can get into your polling station


Eugenics in Toronto – Hiding Ultra-sound results

The Toronto Star recently released an article on the fact that many GTA hospitals, “particularly those in ‘ethnic’ areas […] won’t let their ultrasound staff tell pregnant women the sex of the fetus,” in order to prevent abortion.

A study from St. Michael’s Hospital reveals that while male/female rations for first child of immigrants from India is 105/1oo, the ratio for third children of immigrants was 136/100.  Although researchers caution that their findings are not actually evidence of female feticide (indeed, they do not know why results have turned out as such) and urge people not to racially profile citizens after that, it has caused some concern in the community, and resulted in withheld ultrasounds.




Bioethicist, Tom Koch, commented on pregnant women who choose to abort a fetus with Down syndrome, “We’re engaged in eugenics.”

Dr. Phil.com Mercy or Murder

Deadly Consequences

Annette says she wants the right to euthanize her severely-disabled children, who are being kept alive only by feeding tubes. What would you do? Then, former model, Stephanie Vostry, says she’s fighting to survive chronic Lyme disease, an illness some believe she may be faking. Plus, chronic Lyme disease hits close to home for a “Dr. Phil” staff member.

Dr. Phil.com.





Dr Phil polls the audience


Pop Culture’s 100-year Obsession With Eugenics

For the past century, pop culture has told plenty of stories about eugenics. Some of them have criticized the notion that you can make people “better” — but others have been wishful fantasies about making a better world through genetics. Here’s the weird history of eugenics in popular culture. From Pre-World War II to Genetic Engineering and Beyond, this article traces our fascination with eugenics.  This article includes a clip of a radio presentation, lists of novels and movies that highlight eugenics. Past Intern Jenney McNaughton brought this article to my attention, thanks Jenney!

Francis Fukuyama, a professor at Johns Hopkins wrote:

“The first victim of transhumanism might be equality… If we start transforming ourselves into something superior, what rights will these enhanced creatures claim, and what rights will they possess when compared to those left behind? If some move ahead, can anyone afford not to follow? These questions are troubling enough within rich, developed societies. Add in the implications for citizens of the world’s poorest countries — for whom biotechnology’s marvels likely will be out of reach — and the threat to the idea of equality becomes even more menacing.”

Continue reading

cool device

As a full-time wheelchair user, I am thrilled to see this stand-up mobility product where a person who is paralyzed can get around standing up. In the video you can see the person shopping, cooking, cleaning, and interacting with others from a standing position. The device is relatively narrow compared to even a small wheelchair. I would love to be able to get around upright and to interact with others at eye level without craning my neck! Standing upright and being “tall” again is something I really miss! Here is the link:   Instead of a wheelchair

Maine law changes disparaging language in state statutes, programs

from Bangor Daily News Maine, April 9th, 2012:

Christina Mailhot got teased a lot as a child.

Born with Down syndrome, words like “retard” were flung at her every day, meant to be insulting. So when Mailhot, now 33 and a member of the Augusta-based self-advocacy group Speaking Up For Us, heard state officials using “mentally retarded” in relation to people with disabilities, she cringed.

“It’s legal talk; they’re legal words saying we are stupid,” she said. “I’m not that stupid, you know.”

Soon, such words will be wiped from Maine law and removed from the names of some Department of Health and Human Services programs. They will be replaced with phrases like “intellectual disability” and “person with a disability.”

Read the whole article here

Offensive words and phrases and their recommended replacements:

  • Afflicted (eliminate or use “affected”)
  • Crippled children (children with disabilities)
  • Deranged (persons who have mental health diagnoses)
  • Drunkard (person with alcoholism)
  • Handicapped (eliminate as a noun, as in “the handicapped.” Replace with “disabilities” when paired with a person, as in “child with disabilities”)
  • Lunatic (person declared legally incompetent)
  • Mental deficiency (cognitive disability)
  • Mental retardation (developmental disability)
  • Mentally defective (has a cognitive disability)
  • Senile (eliminate or use “people with dementia” or “people who have dementia”)