In a rare act of unanimity, Canadian MPs recently voted to provide "full support" for those living with the effects of the drug thalidomide. It's recently been in the news, but thalidomide victims have been struggling to be heard for decades now.
It was a federally approved drug that didn't display its serious effects until later. The children born of many of these women suffered severe physical impairments, including missing or incompletely formed limbs.
Thalidomide has a chilling history, bringing up important questions about the kinds of drugs that are regulated and what we use to treat various conditions. You can read more about it in Dark Remedy by Trent Stephens.
Now, almost fifty years later, with more financial support from the country, many of these now-grown children can finally breathe a little easier. The War Amps, an organization that works with amputees, urged the Canadian government to look specifically at what the Thalidomide Victims Association of Canada (TVAC) have outlined when considering what kind of support their members need. As many of the survivors are now reaching their fifties, they will require additional help as they start to face some of the disabilities that come with age. You can find out more about this debate in this article at the Globe and Mail.
In her book, About Canada: Disability Rights, Deborah Stienstra describes how small changes can help transform Canadian society into something that is truly supportive of those living with disability.
The focus, as she says, must not remain on 'fixing' bodies but instead enhancing the support structures around us. Hopefully, with this latest victory, those with disabilities due to thalidomide will be finally getting the support they deserve.