A couple of weeks ago, on and around August 10th there was yet another long-running argument being conducted on Twitter between anti-vaccine supporters on the one hand and autistic advocates on the other. Read more
Much has been written about the case of Issy Stapleton, an autistic girl who survived the attempt by her mother to murder her during her failed suicide attempt. I’ll not repeat the details of the case here.
I’m adding my 2c because this case has been characterized by excuse after excuse for the mother’s actions. Caring for a disabled child is hard: there is no argument about that. Not everybody is able to cope with the day to day hardships involved. Again, no argument from me about that.
I believe it’s not only possible to sympathize with the difficulties faced by parents of disabled children, it’s natural. My own parents had some hard times raising me when they had to involve outside agencies. Yes, there is a lack of support out there and the children and their parents suffer because of that, especially when the cost of that support exceeds the means of the family.
My point is that none of that excuses trying to murder that child. Whether a person is disabled, whether they exhibit behavioral problems or violent outbursts, whether they are able to communicate their needs, whether a parent feels that the situation is more than they are able to cope with: none of this excuses murder, or its attempt.
A disabled person has exactly the same right to live as anybody else. Their life is worth no less. Only the person themselves can possibly judge whether their quality of life is acceptable: nobody else, no matter how close, has that insight or the right to make such a judgment call.
And that is why I will never accept any excuse for the actions of Issy’s mother. I believe her actions in planning to murder her daughter and kill herself were selfish and completely failed to recognize her daughter as an individual with her own feelings and rights. More than that, she betrayed the trust of her daughter by making such a choice on her behalf. Issy had no idea that the so-called camping trip was really meant to result in their deaths. And that is unforgivable.