Mentality vs. Disability Who Has the Handicap? Aaron J Hudson Prof. John Chaffee So this is what it comes down to, a meeting with the devil himself. I have loathed the mere knowledge of the existence of this man. Peter Singer has been the eternal thorn in my side and now he himself has extended an invitation to have a public discussion about my existence and how “insignificant” he believes it to be. I don’t need his permission to live. I don’t need his acknowledgement of my life to live on. Why do I need to have a meeting of the minds with this killer anyway? To prove his theories and beliefs as false…that’s why. I am Aaron J Hudson, the lead activist of DAD, The Disabled Against Death, lead attorney for the organization, and I have a sever case of Down’s Syndrome which has sentenced me to life in a wheelchair. As you can tell from my success in life, this disease has not hindered me in my dreams or ambition of life. If anything, it has been my continued source of strength which drives me to push myself to the limits to prove to any and every doubter that we belong here in this civilization and we can live a normal life just like any other human who was born healthy and disease free. Against the better judgment of the advisory board of DAD, I have chosen to, defensively but aggressively, attack Singer and his views and find out who on this earthly planet gave this devil permission to play God with my life and the lives of those who share my disability. I have documented my exchange of words with Singer for future reference to anyone who chooses to look back on this monumental moment in our continued Fight for Life Campaign. Peter Singer: Mr. Hudson, thank you for accepting my invitation to Princeton for our, what I hope to be, intellectual exchange of talk. I hope our facilities have met your every expectation. Aaron Hudson: Though I don’t completely share your same enthusiasm about today’s events, I must say that I am eagerly looking forward to our discussion and yes, I have been properly equipped though I am completely capable of functioning on my own. Never the less, thank you. PS: My intentions were not to offend you Mr. … AH: Oh, that was done a long time ago Mr. Singer. Let’s say we give our audience the show they came to see and begin our talk. PS: As you wish. How would you like to begin the discussion? AH: Let’s start by you explaining how you contradict yourself. You have been quoted as saying that, “Some humans are non-persons, while some non-human animals are persons.” Though I agree with the whole animal rights movement, how do you explain the difference of ethics between humans and animals? More so, how do you determine the suffering animals or humans go through? PS: The fact that animals are animals and humans are humans is not the issue here. It’s a matter of consciousness and which is conscious that makes the difference. Let’s use a grown horse and a human’s embryo for example. When a horse breaks its leg, we decide to put that horse out of misery as soon as possible to avoid any prolonged suffering throughout its life. When dealing with an unborn embryo, this entity does not yet have the capacity of consciousness to experience suffering or lack of suffering. The unborn embryo is not yet human. It is not yet self aware or capable of grasping their lives over time where as the horse has more human qualities than the embryo. So if this embryo has been diagnosed with an incurable disease prior to it’s consciousness and it is terminated prior to birth, the loss of suffering would be tremendous to the baby and the parents of the baby. Would you not agree? AH: What I don’t agree with Mr. Singer is that you persuade your views upon the parents to make the decision you think is correct. You do not give the parents the chance to make their own decision. You do not consider the fact that the parents already know the problems they are going to have, have considered their options, and you have completely under minded the love that the parents already have for their unborn child. PS: I am not under minding a parent’s love at all. On contrary, I am attesting to it. My argument is that a decision be made prior to this irresistible attachment we as humans grow to our children. With technology today, it is possible to learn of multiple disabilities prior to birth. If these defects are detected early enough, the parents still have a chance to cut themselves from any ties forming which gives them the option to start again from the beginning. AH: I am living proof that those born with disabilities can still lead successful and fulfilling lives despite our mental or physical setbacks. I am a graduate of Harvard Law; I have passed the boards in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and I am able to live a lifestyle that I am satisfied and comfortable with. My quality of life is satisfactory despite my disability. With that said, how can you predict anyone’s quality of life based on their possible disabilities? PS: I am not denying the lives of anyone, disease free or not. It is obvious that you have done well for yourself and I commend you on your success. I am simply saying that your parents should have been giving the option to terminate post acknowledgement of your defect. You are not part of the majority who have been born with Down’s Syndrome who have had a much tougher time throughout life. History shows that more children than not who have been diagnosed with Down’s have lived a short and rough life. If their parents were given the option to abort upon knowing the outcome of their child, that child and its parents would have diminished all the suffering that they went through throughout the child’s life. AH: Okay Mr. Singer, let’s throw yourself in the equation. Would you yourself be willing to abort a child of your own, knowing that that “embryo”, your own seed, has a defect that would cause it to live an abnormal life? PS: I am no exception to the rule Mr. Hudson. If I were in the same situation as many parents have been before and will continue to be in the future, to eliminate the suffering that myself, my wife, and my unborn child would go through, I would opt to abort my child. I would rather cut my ties with that unborn child prior to growing any relation to it and start again from scratch.. I live by my preachings Mr. Hudson, I would want that same option that I am suggesting for other parents faced with similar circumstances. AH: Do you honestly believe that you can replace a life with a life Mr. Singer? You say that by cutting ties with a diseased embryo and replacing it with another seed will erase the prior embryo’s existence. Conscious or not, that embryo was a creation of two people. You may not feel that you a murdering a life, but you are murdering the creation created between the two of you. Do you think you would forget about the creation you made with your wife? Do you think you can create a replica of what that embryo would have become? PS: That is exactly what I would not want to do Mr. Hudson. I would not want to create a replica of the child I chose to abort. This is why I would want that option to abort. Now there is no guarantee that if we decided to try again, that the next child would not have a defect, but that’s just the chances we would take. The memory of that embryo would forever be with me, but only the memory of an embryo, not the love that comes with watching the embryo grow into a fetus and then into a baby. I would never know of the life that the diseased embryo would become but could only hope that my next child would be diseased free and it would have a better chance at a more normal life. AH: You have also been quoted that “Not…everything the Nazis did was horrendous; we cannot condemn euthanasia just because the Nazis did it.” Do you consider yourself a modern day Hitler? PS: Not in the sense that you would like to think. I am not the monster that many have conceived me to be. I do not agree with his reasoning for genocide or genocide at all for that matter. The innocents who were murdered by the orders of Hitler were healthy individuals. Individuals who could have lead painless and successful lives should have, by every right, been given that opportunity. Adolf Hitler’s mentality was not geared to killing those who were suffering; he wanted to rid the world of those who he deemed less worthy to live. I am not saying this at all. I am suggesting that a choice be given to rid the world of less suffering amongst individuals and their families. I am only offering a choice, not mandating that this choice be law. AH: I must admit Mr. Singer, throughout this discussion, I have been trying to find someway to solidify my dislike for you and your beliefs. You have been nothing but courteous, respectful, and an intent listener throughout this process. My final question for you is one that I do not want answered at this moment in time. This is a question that I would like you to think about and hopefully act on one day in the future. Based on meeting with me, conversing with me, and having the chance to get to know me as a person other than an individual with Down’s Syndrome, has our conversation today changed your views or beliefs about terminating the lives that may be defective? AH: Thank you again Peter for your invitation for this forum. It has been a pleasure meeting you and an unexpected pleasure talking with you. Good day!!!