Tuesday, February 12, 2008

FRIDA Call for Feminist Voice in Lauren Richardson Case

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2008

For Information Contact:
Sharon Lamp (847) 803-3258; (847) 894-4907 cell
Amber Smock: Ambity(a)aol.com

FRIDA Calls for Feminist Voice on Lauren Richardson Case

(Chicago) Feminist Response In Disability Activism (FRIDA) today calls for disability-positive advocacy by feminists and advocates on the case of Lauren Marie Richardson, 23, of Delaware. The media has presented her battle as primarily about her right to life. However we feel this angle obscures the more fundamental struggle against deeply entrenched beliefs about women parenting with a disability. The deeper message in the fight to end her life is: “Better off dead than be a mom like THAT.” We object vehemently to this message.

Richardson suffered a severe brain injury after a heroin overdose in August 2006. Pregnant at the time, she was placed on life support and gave birth to a baby girl the following February. Shortly thereafter, her mother, Edith Powers, was awarded guardianship of Richardson for the stated purpose of removing her feeding tube and ending her life. Richardson has never been allowed to have contact with her daughter. Her only “life support” at this time is a feeding tube.

Randy Richardson, Lauren’s father, is contesting Powers’ decision to remove the feeding tube. In addition, he has appealed that he be allowed to care for Lauren at home, and that Lauren be united with her daughter so that she will know her mother. FRIDA fully supports Randy Richardson’s efforts. He has set up a site about his daughter at www.lifeforlauren.org.

FRIDA emphasizes that we are not aligned with pro-life groups. Our purpose in this statement is to expose the ableism and sexism at work in this case. A woman is not diminished in her capacity to love her child simply because she is disabled. Traditionally, “good” mothers have been narrowly defined as non-disabled, white, middle class, heterosexual women. Another common misconception is that the child of a person with a disability will be adversely affected by parental disability.

We appeal to feminists and activists to join FRIDA in supporting Randy Richardson’s efforts to care for Lauren and to unite her with her baby, and to publicly denounce the ableism and sexism inherent in this case.