penny wolfson on palin


Penny Wolfson, whom I quoted in my long and controversial post, has a wonderful essay about Palin, disability and reproductive rights at Beacon Broadside.

“Moonrise” is featured in Suzanne Kamata’s new anthology Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs, which was published by Beacon. I haven’t read the book yet, but I know I’m going to love it. It contains writing from some of my favorite mother writers.


  1. Oh! Kate I love S. Kamata’s book is now forever by my bed….thanks for the PW’s essay

  2. I will send you two copies, one of your own, and one to give away to a reader! Send me your snail mail and they’ll be on their way.

  3. Oh, cool! I didn’t even realize this until I read your blog. Penny Wolfson rocks!

  4. Thanks for the heads up. I sent this article to several of my more conservative friends. I’ve only heard back from one, my mother!, and it wasn’t encouraging. I’m finding it really difficult right now to deal with “the other side.” And my disgust with and aversion to Palin and her politics just positively tips over into huge emotion when we get to the disability/special needs stuff. This article was thoughtful and provocative.

  5. I just had a visit with my own OB who went OFF on Sarah Palin–how she travelled at the end of her pregnancy when no airline would normally let a pregnant woman on board, how when her water broke she refused advice of staying put and delivering there (she was in Dallas after all, not some tiny town in Alaska, go figure), then got on a plane again, where she got other people involved because there was a real chance she could have delivered on the plane and, to add to that, because Trigg was at risk for heart problems due to Down’s, she was putting his life at risk too. But all in the name of appearances and professional advancement. My OB says, “Why isn’t anyone talking about that? If that doesn’t speak to someone’s ability to make good decisions, I don’t know what does.”

    And reading Penny Wolfson’s essay just makes me more angry about it. Her essay, though, is lovely and brings me into the issue through yet another door.

    And nice plug in there for you Kate! Right on!

  6. Oh Vicki, thank you! I look forward to reading it! (And giving one away!)

    Kara, I wondered what OBs would think of that. Such a good point.

    Elizabeth, I wonder if it’s possible to really let what an author says sink in if you go in already knowing you are going to disagree with what she says? Do you think that was your mother’s experience? I’m curious about this.

  7. I am kind of late to this post, but read both your original “long controversial” post, as well as the Wolfson article for which you provided a link. I’d already read her essay.

    I see no value in Sarah Palin, and her remarks about education for children with disability showed an utter level of ignorance about IDEA.

    I’ve written some posts on my own blog about the complexities of abortion and figuring out what pro-choice and pro-life mean–both in terms of the self and society. I’m glad that you were writing about it because I think that too often we are asked, as women, to state that we’re in one camp or the other, when there isn’t always some bright line in the sand to guide our way.

    I am particularly troubled by the issues relative to aborting children with known disabilities. I’m not against personal choice or personal decision-making. But my own concerns, as the mother of a child with very severe multiple disabilities who has an unknown, probably genetic condition, are myriad. Wolfson talks, in a way I recognize, about the daily battles with health insurers–I know this too well.

    One of my concerns is that the ability to selectively abort for certain known conditions gives insurers and schools and governments some kind of rationale for continuing to deny services and make life difficult for disabled kids; i.e., why didn’t I abort? The fact is, I never had the knowledge that would have given me grounds for that decision. Our society is already so lacking in empathy, this sense that abortion is a “choice” seems dangerous to me for the disabled–potentially putting personal responsibility on parents who do have disabled children, regardless of the information available to them during pregnancy. I worry about further stigmatization of the disabled and their families. I’m an advocate for thinking of ways to talk about abortion that go beyond the idea of “choice” and develop a different vocabulary for it. We’re rapidly turning children into proprietary objects and not thinking of them in terms of their communal place as future citizens. I don’t know if that makes sense.

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