Handicap This! January-February 2013

by Suzanne Rose

England—Church of England leaders want doctors to have the right to withhold treatment from disabled newborn babies in “exceptional circumstances,” even though it will “certainly result in death.” The church states that the principle of “justice” inevitably means that the potential cost of long term healthcare and education in the saving of other lives has to be considered. This proposal has angered many who are against the Church’s position on abortion. As one woman stated, “So I shouldn’t have an abortion if tests show my fetus has a disabling condition, but it’s OK to let it die once it is born?”

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Dublin, Ireland—Nearly 2,000 protesters marched to the gates of the Dáil protesting cuts to services for those with disabilities. Members of the Disability Rights Coalition are demanding their rights, not charity. They are asking for a new law to replace the 1871 Lunacy Act, a collection of laws governing people with intellectual and other disabilities. “It’s past time for the word ‘lunacy’ to be dropped from the books,” stated one activist. People with disabilities have suffered budget cuts of 13.7% since 2008.

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Guatemala City, Guatemala—Disability Rights International (DRI) has documented life-threatening abuses against children and adults at Federico Mora Hospital, a psychiatric facility. The incidents of trafficking of women for sex and other incidents of physical and sexual abuse are so high that newly admitted minors are kept in isolation cells and adult women are locked in wards. Deaths in isolation rooms are common. People die from treatable infections because they are denied medical care. The armed guards are known to be the worst perpetrators of the abuse and violence.

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