The Controversy Behind “The Cure”: Friend or Foe?

Nov 29, 2010
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The current discourse, which caters to the support for the advancement toward a ‘cure,’ is a highly controversial topic within the disability rights community. Yet when the discussion towards finding a ‘cure’ arises more often than not very little tribute goes to activists with disabilities who speak against the need for a ‘cure’. Instead, the mass media focuses on discussions that rally for more funding and policy-making that would promote developments on ‘fixing’ and ultimately ‘curing’ people with disabilities in the United States. Typically I keep my opinion regarding this subject to myself, but after coming across an article regarding Michael Kutcher’s recent political agenda, I’ve decided to unleash my thoughts.

In an article published by The Hill, Kutcher states, “I’ll be 33 years old, and I’ve lived with it all of my life. So there may not be hope to help me, but there’s definitely hope to help others out there and children who are going through a rough time in their younger years,” (Kitto, http://thehill.com/capital-living/20-questions/119863-20-questions-with-michael-kutcher).  I believe the important thing to remember is that being young is tough for all individuals and while children and teens with disabilities may endure hardship due to oppressive attitudes from their peers, most of this stems from the social unawareness about disability. Not because having a disability inherently creates stigma. While I do believe that technologies should be used in order to meet the health and physical needs for people with disabilities I do not believe that the overall goal should be to find a ‘cure’. Because even if a ‘cure’ for disabilities, such as CP could be achieved there is no guarantee that it would result in a happier or a more fulfilled life. The disability experience has several components that should be taken into account such as, environmental, social, and cultural dynamics that occur within a society.

As a woman who also grew up with Cerebral palsy, while I understand where Michael Kutcher is coming from and hold no bias for his personal choices and endeavors I believe it is significant to point out that his current undertaking is not working only, “…on a personal level,” (Kitto, http://thehill.com/capital-living/20-questions/119863-20-questions-with-michael-kutcher). Ultimately his maneuvering through the political arena and voicing his support for the organization, Reaching for the Stars, will cause a ripple effect for many people with CP, only strengthening the message that disability is a condition that needs to be ‘fixed’ instead of understood.

Finally I want to articulate that I believe everyone has their own reasons and experiences for the hopes to find a cure for various disabilities. My counter narrative lies in the fact that I wouldn’t have my life any other way than living with a disability, due to the fact that I consider it a unique and amazing experience, that has filled my life with interesting social experiences, personal growth, and a way of looking at American society that enables me to challenge the notions that everyone is treated equally in the United States. And when I hit my 30’s I plan to make a toast with my family and friends to the incredible road that I’ve rolled and walked on while  living my life as a woman with Cerebral palsy.

“Outwit Stereotypes; Expand, Challenge, Expect More!” -Jess

Author: Jess Tourtellotte