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

Monday, October 27, 2003
Year IV, Edition 165

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 36 more news items.

"The belief that people with disabilities like Schindler-Schiavo are 'better off dead' is longstanding but wrong. It imperils us all."

--From a statement released by a coalition of disability rights groups supporting Terri Schiavo's right to continue living (First story)

"Where there's life, there's hope."
--Diane Meyer, quoting high school friend Terri Schiavo several years before her 1990 collapse (First story)



Advocacy Groups Urge Public To Support Terri Schiavo's Right To Live;
Agency Investigates Claims Of Husband's Abuse

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 27, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--A coalition of 14 national and international disability rights groups issued a statement Monday, asking for the media and the public to consider the facts supporting Terri Schiavo's right to continue living.

"Terri Schindler-Schiavo is alive," the statement read. "She deserves nothing less than the full advantage of human and civil rights the rest of us are fortunate to enjoy as Americans."

"She has a severe brain injury, yet has not undergone the rehabilitation that is typically given to people with this type of disability," the statement continued. "People with severe cognitive disabilities are devalued as lives not worth living. In truth, the lives of all of us with severe disabilities are often considered expendable. This is why we are speaking out."

Among other things, the statement points out that the court decision to remove Terri's gastronomy tube on October 15 was made solely at the request of her husband and guardian. Michael Schiavo claims that his wife told him before her collapse that she would never want to live "by artificial means". Mr. Schiavo's request -- which has not been backed up by written documentation -- did not come until after he received a $1 million malpractice settlement and promised to take care of Terri for the rest of her life. Florida courts have consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo since he asked for Terri's feeding tube to be removed so she would starve to death.

At the prompting of tens of thousands of disability rights and right-to-life groups, Governor Jeb Bush backed the state legislature in passing "Terri's Law" last Tuesday, giving him the authority to order Terri's feeding tube reinstalled six days after it had been removed.

Bush's order also called for Terri's husband to be replaced with an independent guardian. A Pinellas County Circuit Court judge has recommended Jay Wofson, a public health professor at the University of South Florida, as guardian if Mr. Schiavo and his in-laws cannot agree on another guardian by November 5.

Some doctors have testified that Terri has been in a "persistent vegetative state" from which she will not recover, since she collapsed and was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. Mr. Schiavo has repeatedly refused to allow rehabilitative treatment for Terri. He has blocked family members and priests from visiting her. Several years ago he placed her in a hospice -- which is ordinarily reserved for patients in the last six months of terminal illnesses -- even though the most pessimistic of doctors have said the 39-year-old woman could live into her 50s.

Several medical professionals have argued that Terri is not in a coma, and that she might benefit from therapies, including speech and swallowing therapies. Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, claim that their daughter is alert, responsive, and that she tries to speak. They also suspect that Terri's original injuries may have been brought about by Mr. Schiavo whom several people have described as domineering, controlling and verbally abusive. Some close to Terri have said that she was planning a divorce before her injury.

A renown New York forensic pathologist backed up the Schindlers' suspicions over the weekend, claiming on national television that Terri Schiavo's initial collapse may have been caused by a head trauma instead of a chemical imbalance as had been previously thought.

Dr. Michael Baden, who has served as chief pathologist for the City of New York and as director of the Forensic Sciences Unit of the New York State Police, told the Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren that it is "extremely rare" for someone at Terri's age, then 26, to have a heart attack from low potassium.

Baden examined a 1991 bone-scan report which did not become available to the Schindlers until 1998.

"That bone scan describes her as having a head injury," Baden said. "That's why she's getting a bone scan. And a head injury can . . . lead to the vegetative state that Ms. Schiavo is in now, and it does show evidence that there are other injuries, other bone fractures."

Florida's Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities has launched an investigation into the Schindlers' claims that Michael has abused and neglected Terri since he became her guardian. The probe is expected to shed light on how he handled Terri's trust fund that his attorney says has dwindled from $700,000 to less than $65,000 over the past ten years. Family members suspect he has spent much of the money on legal fees battling his in-laws.

"They are referred to as the 'big sharks' in the disability field," said Patricia Anderson, attorney for the Schindlers, about the Advocacy Center. The agency is mandated by federal law, and has strong investigative powers, including the ability to examine medical and court-sealed guardian financial records. Its findings of abuse or neglect would be conclusive and would preempt any court or other agency determination, Anderson explained.

The chief judge in Pinellas County Circuit Court has set a November 5 hearing into Mr. Schiavo's claims that the legislature and governor violated the state constitution when it passed "Terri's Law" last week.

The American Civil Liberties Union announced Friday that it would support Mr. Schiavo's position. The ACLU explained that the governor and the legislature overstepped their bounds when they attempted to over-ride the courts.

Andrew Koppelman, a constitutional law expert at Northwestern University, told the Chicago Tribune that the courts might not be able to overturn the new law.

"The Legislature has to have power to legislate today about what we do tomorrow, and that power is not taken away by the fact that the judiciary said something else yesterday," he said.

According to a CNN story, Terri told a high school friend in 1981, "Where there's life, there's hope", as they discussed the case of Karen Ann Quinlan, who had been in a coma since collapsing six years earlier.

"Issues Surrounding Terri Schindler-Schiavo Are Disability Rights Issues, Say National Disability Organizations" (Ragged Edge Magazine)
"Before fight over death, Terri Schiavo had a life" (
"Interview with Dr. Michael Baden, a Forensic Pathologist from NY" (“On the Record” with Greta van Susteren via Terri's Fight)
"State to probe family's claim of spousal abuse" (Chicago Tribune - requires free registration)
"ACLU Joins Dispute Over Terri Schindler Schiavo" (Cybercast News Service)
Expanded Coverage: Terri Schiavo's Right To Live (Inclusion Daily Express)



Staff Members Plead Guilty To Beating Arlington Resident

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 27, 2003

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE--Two former employees of Arlington Developmental Center have pleaded guilty to beating a resident of the institution, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday.

Tovi Brewer, 25, and Leon Cecil Bratcher, 37, admitted that they conspired to deprive 41-year-old James Johnson of his federal constitutional right to be safe from staff assaults. Each faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

In their plea agreements, Brewer and Bratcher said that between January 1997 and June 1998 they routinely punched Johnson in the head and chest to punish him for behavior caused by his disabilities -- including wetting his pants. The defendants and witnesses covered up the abuse to protect each other, they said.

In a trial earlier this month, which ended in a mistrial, jurors saw photographs of Johnson's back that showed he had massive bruises, welts and 22 lashes that appeared to have been made by an electrical cord.

Federal prosecutor Steve Parker told the jury that Johnson, who has mental retardation and does not talk, was "demonized" by the two men who were supposed to feed and bathe him. The two were too lazy to care for Johnson properly, so they tried to control him with threats and violence, Parker said.

A retrial was scheduled to begin next week.

The Justice Department said the two would be sentenced in accordance with United States Sentencing Guidelines.



Self-Advocates Present Freedom Proclamation

October 27, 2003

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA--North Carolinians with disabilities and their allies recently gathered at the state Capitol, the Governor's Mansion and the Legislature to let lawmakers know that they want their rights recognized.

"Some of these folks are angry. Some are scared," wrote parent-advocate Betsy MacMichael in a column for the Durham Herald-Sun.

"All want to protect what rights they have gained over the last few years, while many seek to gain a freedom that still eludes them."

MacMichael included the text of the proclamation in her column which ran Sunday.

Entire column:
"People with disabilities proclaim rights at rally" by Betsy MacMichael (Durham Herald-Sun)



"Voices of Voiceless Deserve To Be Heard" by Deborah Kendrick

October 27, 2003

CINCINNATI, OHIO--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a column by Deborah Kendrick in Sunday's Cincinnati Enquirer:

One of the many experiences shared by children, the elderly and people with disabilities is that they are not expected to speak for themselves. Others speak around, over and about them.

Being physically unable to speak for ourselves is one of our deepest fears.

The story of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, a 39-year-old Florida woman, might be a real-life enactment of anybody's worst nightmare.

It is beyond frightening, this fact that our legal system could authorize starving this woman who has become voiceless.

Entire column:
"Voices of voiceless deserve to be heard" (Cincinnati Enquirer)



Sled Hockey Defenseman Sees Disability As Blessing

October 27, 2003

TAYLORSVILLE, UTAH--Last week, 22-year-old sled hockey defenseman Travis Farley qualified to represent the United States in the 2006 Paralympic World Games.

"It's so surreal," Farley told the Deseret Morning News. "It's indescribable to say I'm on the USA sled hockey team."

Farley, who has spina bifida and scoliosis, has worked hard to find ways to play sports like basketball, tennis and especially hockey. He sees his disabilities as positive aspects of who he is.

"People ask me sometimes if I'd trade my disability to be quote 'normal,'" Farley said. "But I wouldn't. This has been a blessing, and it's something I've grown to appreciate. I wouldn't trade the way I am for anything in the world."

"The things we have the power to do is overwhelming," he explained. "The things we can change in life, it's amazing."

Related article:
"Sled-hockey athlete says disability opens doors" (Deseret Morning News),1249,520033973,00.html



Welcoming Babies With Down Syndrome

If you are welcoming a new baby with Down Syndrome into your family, you probably have many questions and concerns, as do your extended family, friends, and neighbors. We have written this information keeping in mind our own diverse experiences when our children were born with DS.

Congratulations on the birth of your baby. We wish you all the best.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives -- From two years ago:


Would The 'Real' Chip Douglas Please Come Forward?

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 26, 2001

AKRON, OHIO--Michael Morgan really should have known better.

First of all, Morgan, a computer programmer working for the Akron Municipal Court, should have known not to park in a handicap parking space on August 16. That mistake led to a $250 parking ticket.

Second, he should have paid the parking fine right away. But Morgan put it off until he was sent a warning letter earlier this month.

That's when he made the biggest mistake of all: Since he worked for the court and knew computers well, Morgan went into the court's computer system and simply changed the records to show that he had paid the ticket.

Court officials figured there was something wrong when an account came up $250 short. They became even more suspicious when the records showed that "Chip Douglas" had paid Morgan's fine.

Evidently somebody remembered that "Chip Douglas" was the name of a character from the television show "My Three Sons" that aired from 1960 to 1972.

Officials took this information to police who decided to press felony charges against Morgan.

Morgan, 30, was not able to produce the fictional TV character or a receipt from him. He has now admitted to changing the records, a mistake that could cost him up to $10,000 and a five-year jail term, not to mention the loss of his job. He has been suspended and was expected to be arraigned Friday morning.

"It's definite poor judgment,'' Judge Lynne Callahan, the presiding judge in Municipal Court, told the Akron Beacon Journal.

No charges have yet been filed for impersonating a 60s-era TV character to commit a crime.


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