According to the primary lobby representing the interests of mentally retarded Americans, the American Alliance for the Mentally Retarded (AAMR):

"AAMR will uphold the right to self-determination as the right to act as the primary causal agent in one's life, to pursue self-defined goals and to participate fully in society. Selfdetermining individuals control their lives, make choices and decisions based on their interests, abilities and preferences, and take responsibility for their lives. "

The ARC (not exactly sure what the acronym actually means), another outspoken national organization working on behalf of Americans with mental retardation states that:

"All people with mental retardation, including individuals with the most significant disabilities, can express preferences and use those preferences to make choices. Individuals must be present and participate when decisions are made about their lives. While a disability may make it more difficult, all people must have the opportunity to learn decision-making skills, to express their decisions and have them respected by others. "

Yet both of these organizations- and virtually all other advocates for the rights and well being of mentally retarded individuals -- support today's Supreme Court ruling disallowing the use of capital punishment for criminals who meet the state's definition of mental retardation.

A press release from the AAMR praising the Court's decision reads:

AAMR has long served as amicus curiae in Supreme Court cases and has published a position paper on mental retardation and the death penalty In 2001, AAMR and eight other disability organizations presented an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court advocating against the death penalty in the Atkins case.

"I am deeply grateful that the Supreme Court Justices have put an end to this barbaric practice of killing persons who do not have the full intellectual capacity to understand the crime they committed," says Doreen Croser, Executive Director of AAMR. "This is an important day for disability advocates and for our country."

I just don't get this. These groups support the right of mentally retarded individuals to give birth to and raise children, but don't believe that these same adults have the "full intellectual capacity" to understand the concept that murder is wrong?

By the way, I oppose the death penalty altogether.