A mom whose little girl’s photo was used on Twitter to suggest that babies with disabilities should be aborted fought back against an anonymous harasser — and won.
Natalie Weaver’s beloved 9-year-old daughter, Sophia, is disabled and has deformities on her hands, feet and face, which is what makes the online use of her photo to debate the value of her life that much more horrific.
“She’s the most positive and sweet little soul and she inspires me every day,” Weaver, a disability rights advocate, said in a video that was shared by CNN.
The sad scenario started late last year when an anonymous troll took to Twitter with a photo of Sophia. That sparked a slew of disturbing messages, including the following one: “Make amnio testing mandatory and If d female duz not want to comply n d child iz not normal she shud be responsible for it not d tax payers … it aint mine y shud I have to pay fo it [sic].”
Weaver responded by encouraging her followers to report the initial tweet with Sophia’s photo and asking Twitter to remove it.
At first, she said the social media company claimed that the message didn’t violate its standards, but, after months of fighting back, the post was later removed and the account was suspended, CNN reported.
Sophia depends on Weaver and the family for all of her care, as she suffers from Rett syndrome, a neurological disease, in addition to her deformities. Rett is a rare brain syndrome that mostly impacts young girls; Sophia is unable to talk as a result, and experiences a range of other issues.
“She’s had 22 surgeries. She has a feeding tube. A colostomy bag,” Weaver told CNN. “She has seizures and choking spells because of both the deformities and the Rett syndrome.”
I'll say it again before a troll says… "I shouldn't have to pay for your child" Well, YOU DONT! my husband works, we pay taxes(a lot of them) into safety nets like Medicaid. If you became disabled & needed this safety net, I'd be glad my $$ helps you receive insurance? pic.twitter.com/WRQvA8q22q
— Natalie Weaver (@Nataliew1020) January 7, 2018
Considering the difficulties, Weaver was horrified that her daughter’s photo was used and that cruelty ensued. She made it clear in an interview with CNN that, despite the associated challenges, Sophia makes her life complete.
Thank you @TwitterSupport & @jack for listening! The account that was using my daughter's image has been suspended! Thank you to the thousands of people who reported this & supported us! Thank you for taking a stand against hate! pic.twitter.com/77jPFljYPs
— Natalie Weaver (@Nataliew1020) January 22, 2018
“I think many times, people don’t even view Sophia is a person. I know it happens with other people with disabilities. And people view her as a disability, but I just want them to look at her as my child,” Weaver said.
She then offered up one of the most profound statements about the impact Sophia has had on her life: “We have to deal with so many challenges, but because of her my life is better. I know what true happiness is.”
The loving mom is now hoping to see Twitter permanently add a category for disabilities to their violation policy, CNN reported.
I had 2 goals for sharing my story publicly:
1. Get the pro-eugenics creep who was using Sophias image suspended
2. Get twitter to include disabilities in their violation reporting
Media outlets are spinning the story to fit their political agenda & to create more division?? pic.twitter.com/2tsL7GVCpr
— Natalie Weaver (@Nataliew1020) January 24, 2018
It is important to note that Weaver’s main goal has been to get “the pro-eugenics creep who was using Sophia’ image suspended” and to urge Twitter to include disabilities in their violation reporting.
She has also said that the media have spun her story to fit political agendas, noting that she is both pro-choice and a Democrat. You can read her full statement (above).