Paralympics: saluting the survivors

The Paralympics opening ceremony was not really for me. It is remarkable though, how the whole games seem to be sold out. Nice for the competitors, no doubt.

However, amidst the self-congratulatory stuff, as well as the genuine joy, lurks a monster of hypocrisy. Most of the competitors have acquired disability, such as traumatic amputees, spinal cord injuries and the like. A significant number though were born with their disability. You can easily work it out.

The categories traditionally were:

  • Amputee
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Wheelchair
  • Visually Impaired
  • Les Autres: Athletes with a physical disability that does not fall strictly under one of the other five categories, such as dwarfism, multiple sclerosis or congenital deformities of the limbs.

This is now switching to a functional impairment classification, with ten categories:

impaired muscle power, impaired range of motion, leg length difference, limb deficiency, short stature, ataxia, athetosis, hypertonia, visual impairment and ) intellectual impairment.

My point is that while we celebrate their achievement – and our achievement as a society for doing this – we also readily abort humans with exactly the same physical problems, because we became aware of them in utero. Early enough to get rid of them without any awkwardness.

I don’t see how we can have it both ways.


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