Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Disabled Parents Have Parental Rights

Yesterday I announced that I am writing a book about the criminalization of disability in American society. Disability is not a crime, but it's treated like a crime throughout our society. I'm going to talk about policing, but also the way this mentality emerges in other aspects of society.

Here's one: Parenting while disabled.

Disabled parents are often discriminated against in all kinds of formal (i.e. state attacks on their rights) and informal (attitudes) ways. Here's a National Council on Disability report on parenting while disabled, with lots more information.

Sometimes, though, it's more useful to look at a single story. Imagine being in a custody battle, and your partner claims, in court, that your disability makes you unfit to be a parent. That's happening to Mike. Here's his IndieGoGo fundraiser, and it's been vouched for by people I trust. I don't know the details of his marriage, of course, but I do know that his fitness as a parent is not predicated on not having a disability. It's a kind of language we need to fight. 
As the case now goes to trial it is becoming clear that Mike's former partner will be using his disability against him in an effort to prevent him from gaining access and any custody. A number of her court filings contain factual inaccuracies and gross misrepresentations, including her statement that Mike is too disabled to parent his son without full-time assistance, and that his disability limits his son's life.
Parenting while disabled is not a crime.

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