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Biden questions GOP disability advocates on stem cell research

In Ableism, Ableism Ethics and Governance and Science and Technology governance, Disability, Public policy on September 9, 2008 at 5:38 pm

It seems we are a tool again for other to push their agenda. The below write up for sure leads to certain troubling thoughts.

From CNN’s Rachel Streitfeld
here the link
COLUMBIA, Missouri (CNN) – Joe Biden suggested Tuesday that advocates for people with disabilities should “support stem cell research” — a remark that follows repeated pledges from Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin, the mother of a baby with Down Syndrome, to parents of children with disabilities that she would be “a friend and advocate in the White House.”

When asked about the issue at a Tuesday rally, Biden did not mention Palin’s name, but seemed to direct a question to her.

“I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both the joy…and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect,” he said. “Well, guess what folks? If you care about it, why don’t you support stem cell research?”

Biden told voters “the disability issue is not a new issue for us” and said he and Barack Obama would support stem cell research — a political hot potato that Sarah Palin does not support because it involves the use of human embryos.

In an illustration over the controversy of stem cell research — a key issue for some conservative voters — the Republican ticket is split. John McCain supports the practice.

Filed under: Joe Biden

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  1. Gregor,
    In the article you have directed us to, we can see Biden articulate the pervasive medicalized misconception of disability, according to which ‘dealing with disability’ means prevention, elimination, and cure, and furthermore uncritically package this medicalized approach as what disabled people want, as what it means to support us. Nowhere in his statement is there even a suggestion of increased attention to and funding for the achievement of the civil, economic, and political rights disabled Americans are entitled to. On the contrary, “caring” for someone with a “birth defect” (to use his term) amounts to finding them a cure.

    What is most troubling to me about Biden’s remarks in this context is that since most so-called progressive people in the US (and elsewhere) are completely uninformed about the politics of stem cell research with respect to disability and seem quite willing to overlook any egregious elements of the Democratic party’s platform, the remarks will certainly go unchallenged and unexamined. To see an example of this, we need only look to remarks Gloria Steinem made in an op-ed piece in the LA Times the other day. In the piece, Steinem identified the three most troubling (and antifeminist) aspects of Sarah Palin’s policy stances: the undoing of Roe vs. Wade and reproductive freedom/choice, the introduction of creationism and intelligent design in public school instruction, and (wait for it) the refusal to fund stem cell research. As we know, Sarah Palin (and many other Republicans) oppose stem cell research because it requires the destruction of embryos. What Steinem and others (including most other feminists) fail to understand is that even if one refuses to afford moral status to the embryo, there remain politically problematic implications of stem cell research. I hazard to say that the apparent lack of concern for these implications of the technology on the part of most progressive people in the US is indication once again that disabled people’s perspectives, values, and indeed lives, are not respected or taken seriously even by those who claim to be their allies. For those who wish to read a critique of embryonic stem cell research written from a feminist disability studies persepctive, I suggest my paper
    “Stemming the Tide of Normalisation: An Expanded Feminist Analysis of the Ethics and Social Impact of Embryonic Stem Cell Research.” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 3 (1&2) 2006: 33-42.

  2. Indeed Shelley,
    thats why I sent this article to this blog to bring the problematics attached to it to this blog community

  3. Yes, I assumed we were on the same page with regard to our reaction to Biden’s remarks, and I recognized that you aimed to draw readers’ attention to the problematic character of the remarks. My post was designed to spell out what exactly is at issue here, that is, what is wrong with the Democrats’ stance on stem cell research and disability, and apparently their position on disability more generally (or at least Biden’s). This seemed necessary, since the readership of this blog is so diverse and because so few people seem to be informed about, or have reflected upon, the oppressive implications of the technology for disabled people.

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