With the technological advances making more and more in utero testing possible comes a new decision parents have to make: if a disability is discovered in those tests, should they have the baby anyway or should they abort?
In his documentary, Fürhapter examines that intersection of disability rights and bodily autonomy and the difficult ethics that people have to navigate because of those advances in technology.
Die Dritte Option tackles a difficult topic in an interesting way and makes some excellent points but falls incredibly short because it doesn’t consider the perspective of disabled people even once.
Testing is not just a simple fact-generation, it doesn’t just provide parents with more information about the child they’re about to have. Testing is anything but neutral. Once you get a result, there is an incredible amount of pressure and almost automatism to how your reaction should be: if a disability is found, it’s expected that the pregnancy is terminated. Why would anybody consciously have a disabled child after all? That this is an inherently ableistic lane that is absolutely institutionalized (by such things as extended terms for abortions in case of disability) is something the film absolutely realizes.
There are interesting interviews throughout the film, both with parents and with medical experts who make very interesting points in a very deliberate way, put together by Fürhapter with a lot of understanding for their positions.
But that makes it even more grievous that he doesn’t speak to anybody with disabilities. Where are the disability activists, the disabled experts, the people who are absolutely directly affected by the decisions made about life and death here – even more so than the parents themselves? How can you make a documentary about a topic like this and leave out one of the major players in the entire process?
With that choice the film reproduces the ableism and power imbalance that permeates the entire issue, instead of addressing and dismantling it. It’s an unforgivable lack that automatically devalues the otherwise thoughtful approach of the film.
Summarizing: Falls short despite good points.