20 February 2011

♫...London calling? Yes, I was there too...♫

Life, the universe and everything tried to stop me from making it yesterday. From nose bleeds to parking nightmares, I had it all go wrong. I was tempted to just declare "fuck it" and go back to bed (having only managed 3 hours sleep. Not cos I was doing anything fun; I just laid there staring at the ceiling all night). And once I arrived at Congress House I spent most of the day on the verge of a temper tantrum and wishing I had spent the day sleeping.

The first time I heard anyone mention the word "disability" was during the "does the left lead online?" session at 3:30pm. I could've kissed Laurie Penny for bringing up the fact that Labour abolished Incapacity Benefit and talking about the online grassroots disability movement.

This was after I'd spent hours listening to members of other discriminated-against groups tell me that their group was the hardest hit of all.

Now, some of those groups are groups that I also belong to (women, LGBT, working class) so I absolutely understand that they/we are disproportionately hit when you compare us to straight, white, middle class men. But to claim that those groups are the hardest hit group is just not true.

For example; I listened to Dianne Abbott talk about how women and people from a minority ethnic background will be the hardest hit by the cuts. She talked about how people from those groups are more likely to be made redundant because they're more likely to work in the public and voluntary sectors. The same is true of disabled people and for the same reasons; employers in the public and third sectors are slightly less likely to be discriminatory.

But in addition to being likely to lose their jobs due to redundancies in the public sector and funding cuts to the voluntary sector, disabled employees in those sectors are likely to have to quit work due to Access to Work cut backs. Disabled people are also facing cuts to their care packages (which may result in having to give up work due to not having someone to get you out of bed of a morning!) and loss of their DLA.

Abbott also talked about how women and black and minority ethnic folks are more likely to live below the poverty line. This is also true for disabled people. But on top of the current levels of poverty disabled people are facing the prospect of having to pay even more towards their care, losing their incapacity benefit due to the brutal new assessment measures and losing their DLA. People already have to pay more on being disabled than they get back in the form of DLA.

I am not, at all, suggesting that I think that other minorities will not be hit hard. I'm just starting to get annoyed with non-disabled people claiming their group will be hit "hardest" when that is not the case because disabled people experience the same issues but with some extra crap on top.

The complete absence of disability issues from the panels infuriated me too. Why weren't Transport for All represented on the panel talking about transport? Why weren't DPAC, The Broken of Britain or Where's the Benefit represented on the panel about how we're not all in this together? That disabled people are not only being cruelly hit by the cuts but also excluded from discussions about the cuts reminds me of a post I wrote last year about us being the lowest of the low, and something I wrote more recently about how anti-cuts campaigners prefer books and trees to us.

As I said, the session about the left online improved my mood massively. Not only was there an acknowledgement that disabled people exist, I also had a good conversation afterwards with some UKUncutters (apparently my reputation is starting to precede me).

Then there was the final plenary session. I may be utterly furious with the Labour party for not only the recent history in which they scrapped IB and gave us ESA, but also their ongoing support for the coalition cuts to DLA; but I still intend to vote for Livingstone because the improvements he made to the accessibility of London's transport had such a positive impact on my life. However even he managed to piss me off more than somewhat with his closing speech: He talked about how equal London is in term of race, religion and sexual orientation, but how unequal London is in terms of class and wealth. I think it says something about the inequality of disabled people that we didn't even get a namecheck.

I would love to live in a progressive London. Somehow I don't see that happening any time soon when London's so-called progressives turn up to Progressive London denying the existence of around 18% of the population.

18 February 2011

P and enforced sterilisation

People who've been reading this blog for years (yes, both of you) might remember that the subject of whipping the wombs out of disabled young women is something I've written about before: First there was Ashley X and then Katie Thorpe.

There's been another case in the news this week, that of the woman known only as "P". This case is a bit different to the previous two mentioned: In those the parents basically just wanted to prevent their child from growing up because disabled children are cute while disabled adults are icky. In this case it's about attempting to prevent P from the heartbreak of having children taken into care. So I have a little more sympathy for what P's parents are trying to do, even though I think sterilisation against P's will is wrong.

The issue at heart is one of poor social care. P wants a big family, her parents don't want P to have lots of children only for them to be taken into care but her parents don't have the capacity to support her in raising more than 2 children.

My parents are/were (mum died a couple of years ago) disabled. They had different types of impairments to P; they both have/had physical impairments while P has learning difficulties. But the end result is still the same; they needed assistance to raise a child and run a household.

My parents needed support with physical things like cleaning, lifting heavy saucepans and carrying the shopping in from the car. I'm assuming P needs help with understanding managing domestic tasks, planning recipes and managing a shopping list. At the end of the day both sets of parents require help with housework, cooking and shopping. So why did my parents get a care package from social services but P has to live with her parents to get the support she needs 'Big Society' style? Especially when her parents have a limit on what support they can provide and that's at odds with what P herself wants?

I think it's horrific that we're living in a time when the state would rather spend money on a court case in which the future of a women's uterus is decided and potentially surgery against her will; rather than spending the money on social care to allow that woman to live the life she wants to live and have the family she wants to have.

02 February 2011

SPOILER WARNING: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

The back of the book blurb essentially says that the book is about the parents of a kid with OI who decide to sue their obstetrician for "wrongful birth" in order to pay Willow's medical bills.

After the jump spoilers will abound. So if you haven't read it and don't want to be spoiled, don't read on.