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

Friday, November 7, 2003
Year IV, Edition 173

This front page features 9 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this page for the rest of today's news.

"There is something between death and full recovery, and it's called living with a disability."

--Disability rights advocate Rus Cooper-Dowda, who at one time was in what doctors called a "vegetative state" with no chance of recovery (Second story)

"Kicker is my best buddy, Mom."
--Hunter Grove, talking about the long-haired black and mahogany German shepherd that is his new service dog (Sixth story)



Judge Rejects Governor's Plea To Throw Out Constitutional Challenge To "Terri's Law"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 7, 2003

TAMPA, FLORIDA--Pinellas County Circuit Judge W. Douglas Baird on Friday denied Governor Jeb Bush's request to throw out a lawsuit brought by Terri Schiavo's husband and the American Civil Liberties Union which challenged the law that is keeping her alive.

Judge Baird ordered Bush's attorneys to explain by Monday evening why he should not declare "Terri's Law" unconstitutional.The legislature passed the law on October 21, granting the governor authority to have Terri's gastronomy tube reinstalled six days after it had been removed under another Circuit Court judge's order. Immediately after the bill was signed and Terri's feeding tube was reinserted, Michael Schiavo's attorneys, joined by the ACLU, sued the governor for violating Terri's privacy. The suit also claimed that the legislature and governor exceeded their authority by overriding the state court's decisions.

The governor's attorneys had argued last week that the suit should have been filed in Tallahassee instead of Tampa and that Bush had not been properly notified of the suit. Judge Baird rejected that argument.

Mr. Schiavo, who is also Terri's guardian, had asked as early as 1998 for his wife's feeding tube to be removed according to what he has said would have been her wishes. The courts have repeatedly sided with Mr. Schiavo.

Bush has recruited anti-abortion activist Ken Connor to head up his legal team in the case. Connor intends to argue that, while Terri does have a right to privacy, her right to life is more important.

"The state has a compelling interest in preserving human life," Connor said Friday.

Terri collapsed on February 25, 1990 and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes. Since then, she has been breathing on her own and regulating her own blood pressure, but has been given nourishment and water through the gastronomy tube installed in her stomach.

Several doctors have said that Terri, now 39, is in a "persistent vegetative state", in which she can feel nothing and from which she cannot recover. Since February 2000, Florida courts have agreed with Mr. Schiavo's request to have the feeding tube removed, based on his assertion that she told him before her collapse that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means".

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have produced affidavits from number of medical professionals who claim that she is alert, responsive and that she might improve with rehabilitative therapies -- which Mr. Schiavo has refused to allow for at least the last 10 years. They have fought Mr. Schiavo in the courts to keep their daughter alive, and have petitioned to have him removed as her guardian.

The Schindlers accuse their son-in-law of abusing and neglecting his wife and bringing about her initial collapse. They also claim that he has abandoned his role as Terri's husband by living for the past five years with another woman, whom he calls his fiancée and with whom he has fathered two children.

On Thursday, Bush sent a letter to Terri's court-appointed guardian ad litem, asking to meet with him in person to express his own concerns for Terri and to assist in "determining the scope" of his review. Jay Wolfson, the University of South Florida professor who was appointed Terri's guardian ad litem, had been instructed to determine certain facts regarding Terri's condition and submit them with recommendations to the governor.

"I need to have a larger set of facts to explore and so I want to talk to him about it," the governor explained.

Mr. Schiavo's attorneys called Bush's request "very inappropriate".

Disability rights groups have said that Terri's death by starvation would reinforce the idea that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. Disability and right-to-life groups are calling Bush's action a victory in grassroots activism. The passage of "Terri's Law" came after the governor's office and the legislature were swamped by more than 100,000 email messages, most expressing outrage at the removal of Terri's feeding tube.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported on Friday that between 10,000 and 20,000 people in the U.S. are currently in a "persistent vegetative state".

"Bush facing court test to defend Terri's Law" (Sun-Sentinel)
"Gov. Bush asks to meet guardian" (Miami Herald)
"Grassroots effort turned legal tide in Schiavo case" (Philadelphia Inquirer)
"Schiavo case not unique" (Tallahassee Democrat)
IDE Archives "Terri Schiavo's Right To Live"
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation



"It's A Changed Life," Says Advocate Who Has 'Been There'

November 7, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA -- The following six paragraphs are excerpts from a brief story that ran in Thursday's Newsday:

Unable to speak and barely able to move, Rus Cooper-Dowda could do little to prevent her death. Only 30, she had developed a serious form of lupus that had left her in what doctors incorrectly thought was a vegetative state.

She knew the doctors and nurses had all but given up on her because she could still hear. She said later that she listened to them describe her prognosis as hopeless.

They said that she would never live a normal life and that if she took a turn for the worse, no extraordinary measures should be attempted to save her life.

Contrary to their expectations, Cooper-Dowda, now 48, survived. Over the years, she recovered some use of her body, earned a graduate degree and gave birth to a son who recently entered college.

Doctors couldn't explain why her condition got so bad 18 years ago, nor why it improved so much, she said. Which is why she thinks Terri Schiavo, the severely brain-damaged St. Petersburg, Fla., woman, should be helped, not left to die.

"People say she'll never fully recover," said Cooper-Dowda, a writer and teacher from Florida. "My feeling is, 'So what?' There is something between death and full recovery, and it's called living with a disability."

Entire article:
"Disabled Rally Around Terri Schiavo" (Newsday)



State Agency Accused Of Retaliation Against Service Provider

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 7, 2003

TOPEKA, KANSAS--An attorney has accused the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) of retaliating against a provider of community-based services because the provider is involved in a suit against the state agency.

"This is outrageous," said Jim Kaup, an attorney who represents a coalition of community groups that are suing SRS for failing to provide adequate funds for programs that keep people with developmental disabilities out of institutions.

Kaup said that a September 3 letter to Tri-Valley Developmental Services from SRS amounted to a threat to cut funding for the program.

According to Kaup, the letter instructed Tri-Valley to accept a 15-year-old boy with autism who is being kept at Parsons State Hospital -- or else SRS would pull its contract with Tri-Valley.

Tri-Valley's executive director says the agency does not have enough money to serve the boy.

The letter came after the boy was added as a plaintiff to the lawsuit against SRS.

"The message is pretty clear," Kaup said. "Keep this up and we'll put you out of business."

The state had not responded to inquiries from the Lawrence Journal-World by the press time.

Related article:
"SRS accused of threatening party in suit against state" (Lawrence Journal-World)



Disability Laws Exclude Certain Disabilities

November 7, 2003

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA--Thursday's Star Online looked at how Malaysia's vague, discriminatory laws concerning people with disabilities are keeping some people from enjoying the same rights as everyone else.

The Education Act of 1997, for example, states that only students considered "educable" are eligible for special education services.

But what exactly does "educable" mean?

According to one source, it means all students except "the physically handicapped with the mental ability to learn like normal pupils, multiple disabilities or with profound physical handicap or with severe mental retardation."

Another source defines an "educable" student as one who "is able to manage himself without help."

The Education Ministry further explained that a student must be "toilet-trained" to be considered "educable".

"Whichever the case, the regulations imply that Malaysians who are disabled have no equal rights," the unnamed writer noted.

Related article:
"Calling for equal opportunities" (The Star Online)



Local School Boards Pay Millions To Block Special Education Services

November 7, 2003

HAMPTON ROADS, VIRGINIA--School boards in Hampton Roads are paying millions of dollars to outside law firms to fight parents in special education disputes, WAVY-TV reported Friday.

In its "On Your Side" segment, the station explained that taxpayers are paying for school districts to hire high-priced attorneys, specifically to limit access to services for students with disabilities.

A representative of one district said they are hiring the outside attorneys because of their expertise. Another said that it is because district attorneys are swamped with other issues.

In the meantime, one state senator is proposing a measure that would keep outside firms from doing legal work for a district when a city or county attorney is available.

Related article:
"You Paid for This? School Boards Hiring High Priced Attorneys to Fight Parents!" (WAVY-TV)



Four-legged Pal Is Boy's 'Best Buddy'

November 7, 2003

LAKEWOOD, COLORADO--The following seven paragraphs are excerpts from a story that ran Friday on KUSA-TV 9 News:

When Michelle Grove of Lakewood flew to Ohio with her 5-year-old son, Hunter, last month, there was no miracle treatment for his cerebral palsy waiting for him.

Just Kicker.

On the morning of Oct. 6, as Hunter and his mother waited in the hotel lobby, Kicker was led through the parking lot. Once inside, his trainer let go of the leash, letting Kicker find his new owner.

"Hi, Kicker," Hunter said, trying to keep his balance as he reached for the long-haired black and mahogany German shepherd running straight for him.

"Kicker is my best buddy, Mom," he said, with a confidence that would continue for the next 10 days of intensive training at the hotel.

Now, back home, the pair is inseparable. Kicker is there, on Hunter's bed, when he wakes in the morning; he's at the stairs when Hunter needs a buddy to lean on for balance or catch his fall; he's at his feet when Hunter drops something and can't reach down to pick it up; he's by his side when he plays with mom or dad, or just settles down for some quiet time.

With Kicker's help, Hunter is starting to know what it feels like to be like other 5-year-olds.

Entire article with video clips:
"A boy, his dog battle disease" (KUSA-TV)
4 Paws For Ability



Parents Helping Parents, Inc., The Family Resource Center

PHP's mission is to help children with special needs receive the resources, love, hope, respect, health care, education, and other services they need to reach their full potential by providing them with strong families, dedicated professionals, and responsive systems to serve them.


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


High Court To Decide What Is And Is Not A Disability
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 7, 2001

WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday in a case that could help further define what is and is not protected as a disability under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

The case is that of Ella Williams, a former paint inspector at a Toyota plant in Kentucky. Williams claims she developed carpal tunnel syndrome which is a painful wrist condition caused by doing certain tasks over and over again. She alleges that the company fired her in violation of the ADA.

Toyota says it offered Williams a different job, but Williams turned it down saying it still included some manual labor that she was not able to do.

The high court will be asked to decide whether her carpal tunnel syndrome is an isolated injury, as Toyota claims, or if it is an impairment of a "major life activity" as defined by the ADA.

This summer, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a legal brief showing support for Toyota, casting serious doubt in the minds of many disability groups as to the current Bush Administration's resolve in supporting American workers who have disabilities.

IDE Archives "Toyota v. Williams: What is a disability?"


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