Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Year IV, Edition 155

This front page features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this page for 37 other news items.

"The fact that she is unable to give herself nourishment is not a symptom of a dying body. It is the result of severe injury and disability."

--From a legal brief filed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush's office supporting Terri Schiavo's right to swallowing therapies so she may continue to receive nourishment if her feeding tube is removed (First story)

"Two million people are forced into nursing homes when they should have the option of living in their own homes and in their own communities. That may not seem like your fight now, but you may be surprised."
--Astra Taylor, who joined the "Free Our People" March and Rally last month to draw attention to the need to change the institutional bias in the Medicaid system (Third story)



Governor Bush Weighs In On Terri Schiavo's Right To Swallowing Therapy

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 8, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--In a 12-page legal brief filed late Monday, Florida Governor Jeb Bush sided with the parents of Terri Schiavo, claiming that the 39-year-old woman has the right to receive swallowing therapies so she can be spoon-fed before her feeding tube is removed.

Bush's amicus ("friend of the court") brief, filed in U.S. District Court, argued that the court would violate Terri's right to life under the U.S. and Florida Constitutions if it were to assume "that her wish to live without artificial sustenance is the same as her wish not to be fed at all."

Terri's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, claims that his wife told him before her brain 1990 injury that she would not want to live "by artificial means". Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer has consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo's wishes to remove Terri's feeding tube, and has scheduled the removal for October 15.

"Terri has not lost the right to be fed naturally," Bush's document said. "Just as nursing a baby or hand feeding an elderly arthritis-sufferer or a quadriplegic person is not 'medical' intervention, so hand feeding a severely disabled woman is not a 'medical' intervention."

State law recognizes that Terri's "persistent vegetative state" will not in itself cause her death, the brief added, noting that Judge Greer was incorrect to conclude that Terri is "terminal".

"The fact that she is unable to give herself nourishment is not a symptom of a dying body," the governor's brief said. "It is the result of severe injury and disability."

Bush weighed in partly because he "feels compelled to give voice to the thousands of Floridians who have communicated to him their concern over the case." The governor has reportedly received upwards of 40,000 responses to an Internet petition asking for him to intervene in the case. While Bush has no authority with the federal court, his involvement may carry some influence.

According to the Associated Press, the brief cites a New York appellate court case that distinguished between suicide and the removal of artificial feeding tubes. That court ruled that suicide requires a person to want to die, but that a patient who refuses life-support might simply be choosing to live without mechanical devices and allowing nature to run its course.

Terri collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. Some doctors claim Terri has since been in a "persistent vegetative state", and that she will not improve. She breathes on her own, but receives food and water through a gastronomy tube installed in the wall of her stomach.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, claim Terri is alert, responsive and could benefit from rehabilitative therapies, including speech and swallowing programs -- all of which Michael Schiavo has refused to allow. The Schindlers claim that Michael wants Terri to die, in part, so he will be able to take advantage of what is left of a $700,000 insurance settlement.

U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara has scheduled a hearing on the Schindlers' federal suit against Mr. Schiavo for this coming Friday.

Also on Monday, a brief was filed by 14 disability groups and individuals supporting Terri's right to live.

Related resources:
"Governor Jeb Bush Amicus Memorandum" (Required Adobe Acrobat Reader)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express)



High Court To Decide Whether Recovering Addicts Must Be Rehired Under ADA

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 8, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on a case that could determine whether employers can be sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act for refusing to rehire employees who claim to have overcome their drug or alcohol addictions.

The case involves Joel Hernandez who worked for Hughes Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona for 25 years. One day in 1991 Hernandez showed up for work under the influence of alcohol and cocaine. He quit his job that day to avoid being fired.

Two years later, after having gone through a drug and alcohol treatment program, Hernandez applied for a different job at the plant.

"I was trying to re-establish myself," Hernandez said.

The plant refused to consider his application, citing an unwritten blanket policy of refusing to rehire employees fired for breaking company rules.

Hernandez filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against the company, which is now owned by Raytheon Co., claiming the company's policy violates the ADA.

The federal anti-discrimination law protects former alcohol and drug abusers who no longer abuse drugs, often indicated by their successful completion or participation in a recognized treatment program.

Raytheon argues that its policy does not discriminate against recovering or recovered alcohol or drug abusers because it bans all workers fired for breaking company rules.

The Bush administration weighed in on the case, arguing that companies should be allowed to permanently ban workers for misconduct, including showing up on the job under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The case is Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez, 02-749.

Related articles:
"Court Weighs Rights of Recovering Addicts" (Associated Press via Findlaw Legal News)
"Limits of disability act tested" (Christian Science Monitor)
Supreme Court of the United States



"The Other Prison Population" by Astra Taylor

October 8, 2003

NEW PALTZ, NEW YORK--The following three paragraphs are excerpts from an article about last month's "Free Our People" March and Rally, by The Nation contibutor Astra Taylor:

On September 17, one of the longest, and arguably the most arduous, marches in the history of civil rights rolled into Washington, DC, and chances are you didn't hear about it. The participants had traveled 144 miles, from Philadelphia's Liberty Bell all the way to the Capitol Building, under the banner "Free Our People," to protest the fact that 2 million individuals are locked away in this country.

They were not talking about the prison industrial complex or people who have broken the law-unless you consider being physically disabled or getting old a crime. Today 1.7 million people are living (or "warehoused," as the marchers would say) in nursing homes while 300,000 more are assigned to ICF/MRs (Intermediate Care Facilities for the Mentally Retarded) and other residential facilities. Ask around and people will tell you that virtually no one wants to live in these places, but they do not have a choice.

The marchers took to the road to change this by raising awareness about MiCASSA (the Medicaid Community-Based Attendant Services and Support Act), legislation that would amend the Social Security/Medicaid Act and create an alternative called Community Attendant Services and Support.

Entire article:
"The Other Prison Population" (The Nation)
Related resource:
"ADAPT's Free Our People March"



FBI Reviews Beating As Possible Hate Crime

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 8, 2003

LINDEN, TEXAS--The Federal Bureau of Investigation is helping local police determine whether last month's beating of Billy Ray Johnson qualifies under federal law as a hate crime.

Various news services reported that Johnson, a 42-year-old black man who has an intellectual disability, was found September 28 in a ditch near a country road in east Texas. He suffered facial and head injuries, including bruising of the brain.

Linden police at first believed Johnson had gotten drunk and fell into the ditch on his own. They later learned that Johnson had been the only black man at a party with 7 to 8 white men on the night he was beaten.

Police now believe the group got Johnson drunk, then one or more of them beat him before dumping him alongside the remote road.

Those who were involved in the assault could face extended sentences under federal hate crime laws if it is determined that the beating was motivated by Johnson's race or disability.

As of Tuesday, Johnson was slowly recovering at Linden Memorial Hospital, according to Linden Police Chief Alton McWaters.

"He's talking but you can't understand what he's saying," McWaters said.

No arrests had been made in the case.

The federal Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 (amended in 1994 and 1996) defines hate crimes as those "against a person or property motivated by bias toward race, religion, ethnicity/national origin, disability, or sexual orientation."

Linden is about 160 miles north of Jasper County, Texas, where James Byrd, another black man with intellectual disabilities, was murdered and then dragged behind a pick-up truck for three miles along a secluded country road in 1998.

Related article:
"Beating could be hate crime" (Texarkana Gazette)

FBI - Civil Rights Program - Hate Crimes



Beckwith Hall Provides Students With Accessible Housing Options

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 8, 2003

URBANA-CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS--When I started reading this Daily Illini article about a University of Illinois residence hall designed specifically for students with physical disabilities, I thought "Oh, great. Just what we need -- more segregation on college campuses."

I softened a bit, however, when read about the way Beckwith Hall is set up to serve the needs of its residents, not only by being accessible, but also by providing 24-hour assistants, and allowing students to rent rooms big enough for their wheelchairs or service animals.

"There is always someone here called a floater," said Kate Cornell, a junior who is in her second year at Beckwith. "If I spill my pop and I need someone to clean it for me, the floater can help me."

What really sold me was that these students actually have Beckwith Hall as one of a number of options: All university housing complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Entire article:
"Beckwith Hall brings security to UI students" (Daily Illini)



CIBRA: Children Injured By Restraint and Aversives

CIBRA is a fledgling organization in the first stages of development. Founded by families whose autistic children were severely traumatized in well known programs of discrete trial (ABA)and other various settings utilizing dangerous behavior modification techniques, we are an integral part of the fast growing civil rights movement in the autism community.

Our central mission is to provide a national/international support network for parents whose children (including adult children) have been traumatized, injured or killed by abusive behavior modification (ABA) and restraint . This mission includes raising public awareness of the abuses taking place in the treatment community.

We will provide a national/international forum for public testimony of victims of these abuses.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives -- Two Years Ago:

Hiring Workers With Disabilities Is A "Win-Win" Situation

October 8, 2001

SHAWNEE, OKLAHOMA--Eric McKisick, Social Security manager in Shawnee, recently wrote a short item for the News-Star to encourage local businesses to hire people with disabilities.

"If you never considered hiring someone with a disability, you've overlooked a valuable resource," McKisick wrote.

In the piece, McKisick described how one business has benefited by hiring a young man with a brain injury.

Entire article:
"Employer gets win-win situation by hiring worker with disability" (Shawnee News-Star)
Related resource:
The Social Security Administration's Office of Employment Support Programs


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