Author(s): Melinda Tankard Reist
This book tells the personal stories of women who have resisted medical eugenics -- women who were told they shouldn't have babies because of perceived disability in themselves or shouldn't have babies because of some imperfection in the child. They have confronted the stigma of disability and in the face of silent disapproval and even open hostility, had their babies anyway, in the belief that all life is valuable and that some are not more worthy of it than others. This is a book about women who have dared challenge the utilitarian medical model/mindset. Disparaged and treated as pariahs for departing from accepted medical wisdom they have chosen non compliance with medical/social prejudice and defiantly said yes to their babies, and no to the cult of bodily perfection. This is a controversial book that looks critically at the way in which medical eugenics is being used as a contemporary form of social engineering. Melinda Tankard Reist has written a strongly argued and trenchant introduction setting out the issues, among them the idea that having children is about "quality control and the paradigm of perfection."
Defiant Birth explores what is means to have "less-than-perfect pregnancies" and "genetically different babies." People with disabilities have been raising these issues for many years, but on the whole they remain silent and marginalised in the media. Among the issues raised are: how accurate are screening procedures? What is a worthwhile life? Who should decide which life is worth living?
Melinda T Reist, Editor