RELEASE: ACLU disregards disability rights protections
- For Immediate Release:
October 31, 2003
Contact: Diane Coleman 708-209-1500 ext 11
Janine Kemp 503-622-6387
ACLU disregards disability rights protections, says national group
Thirteen years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was
signed into law by Pres. George Bush, our current president's
father, the American Civil Liberties Union is ignoring the law's
nondiscrimination protections for people with disabilities --
including people like Terri Schiavo. The ACLU, an organization
that claims to enforce the Bill of Rights, has set aside
Terri Schiavo's due process rights, in favor of a guardian who
wants to starve her to death because of her disabilities.
"Treating people differently based on health or disability status
violates the rights of people with disabilities under the ADA.
Absent proof that it is truly the person's decision, withholding
medical care based on the belief that he or she would rationally
want to die because of a disability is discriminatory," said the
statement released Monday by over 20 national disability
groups including ADA Watch, the National Coalition for Disability
Rights, the National Coalition on Self-Determination and the
National Council on Independent Living.
"If this situation related to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the rights
of African-Americans or non-disabled women were threatened,
the ACLU would jump in on the side of saving, not ending, life,"
said ADA Watch's Jim Ward. "It's frightening that the opinions
and desires of a person with a disability are so devalued that
Terri Schiavo's life could be ended on the basis of hearsay from
a husband who may have conflict of interest."
"This is not the first time that the ACLU has gone to court to
argue for a discriminatory so-called 'right' for a disabled woman
to be starved to death in the absence of any terminal condition,"
said Diane Coleman, President of Not Dead Yet. "In California,
they brought the infamous 'right to die' case involving
Elizabeth Bouvia, a woman with cerebral palsy. Because of
her disability, the ACLU viewed this depressed 26-year-old
woman as the equivalent of someone who was imminently dying.
Fortunately, by the time they won the case, Ms. Bouvia had
recovered from her suicidal crisis and did not choose to die.
But in Terri Schiavo's case, there's no credible evidence that
this is her choice. Ms. Schiavo is very clearly determined to live."