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

Monday, April 5, 2004
Year V, Edition 906

Today's 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 52 more news items.

"I do my best not to become a target, but it's difficult, some people just take advantage."

--A person with an intellectual disability responding to a survey on hate crimes against people with disabilities in Scotland (Third story)

"Don't give him a gun and put him back on the streets."
--Reverend Michael Thompson, demanding that Denver Police Officer James Turney be fired for shooting to death 15-year-old Paul Childs III, who had mental retardation and epilepsy (Second story)



Catholic Hospitals Consider Pope's Position On Feeding Tubes

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 5, 2004

UNITED STATES--Catholic-run hospitals across the U.S. are deciding how to respond to a recent statement by Pope John Paul II in which he said they were "morally obligated" to provide food and water for people considered to be in a "persistent vegetative state".

In an address given March 20 to a Vatican conference on ethical dilemmas surrounding people who are considered legally incapacitated because of severe brain injuries, the pontiff said that providing food and water is ordinary and appropriate care -- not artificial medical intervention -- regardless of the person's level of disability or illness.

The pope called the act of removing feeding tubes "a true euthanasia by omission."

"We must neither forget nor underestimate that there are well-documented cases of at least partial recovery even after many years; we can thus state that medical science, up until now, is still unable to predict with certainty who among patients in this condition will recover and who will not," he explained.

"The sick person in a vegetative state, awaiting recovery or a natural end, still has the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.), and to the prevention of complications related to his confinement to bed. He also has the right to appropriate rehabilitative care and to be monitored for clinical signs of eventual recovery."

The pope's opinion could affect policies at the 565 hospitals in the Catholic Health Association, which represent about 10 percent of hospitals in the United States. Up to this point, Catholic hospitals in the U.S. have considered feeding tubes to be medical care, which can be withdrawn when the "burden" of such treatment is considered to outweigh the benefits.

Association officials said that they will need to figure out how to address the abundance of "advance directives" and "do not resuscitate" orders that thousands of people have had formally drawn up, which call for no "heroic" or "artificial" measures to keep them alive in specific circumstances.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimated in 1994 that there were 10,000 to 25,000 adults and 4,000 to 10,000 children across the country in a persistent vegetative state. Many could only be fed and hydrated using feeding tubes or intravenous lines.

The pope's pronouncement comes as Florida courts consider the case of Terri Schiavo, whose family is Catholic.

Terri's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, believes she has been in a persistent vegetative state -- that she cannot interact with her surroundings, cannot feel pain, and will not recover from a 1990 brain injury. He petitioned the court in 1998 to have her feeding tube removed, claiming that she told him before her injury that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means".

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, believe she responds to her environment and is alert. They suspect that Mr. Schiavo wants his wife to die so he can marry a woman with whom he has fathered two children.

The courts ordered her feeding tube removed so she would die of starvation and dehydration on October 16, 2003. Governor Jeb Bush, responding to tens of thousands of messages from disability rights advocates and right-to-life supporters, championed "Terri's Law" through the Legislature, giving him permission to have the feeding tube reinserted six days later.

Mr. Schiavo immediately sued the governor, claiming that the law violated Terri's privacy, along with the Florida Constitution's separation of powers provisions.

On a related note, the American Center for Law and Justice filed a notice of appeal Monday, challenging a March 11 decision by the Second District Court of Appeal, which denied a motion to allow Terri's parents to become directly involved in defending "Terri's Law".

"Life-sustaining treatments and vegetative state: Scientific advances and ethical dilemmas" (Pope John Paul II)
"Hospitals face changes after Pope's comments" (The Olympian -- Washington)
"Pope: Life support mandatory" (Great Falls Tribune -- Montana)
"Concern over pope's remarks on comas" (Mercury News -- California)
"Press release: ACLJ Files Notice of Appeal of Florida Court Order" (Business Wire)
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Community Members Demand Turney Be Fired For Paul Childs Shooting

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 5, 2004

DENVER, COLORADO--Community members expressed outrage Friday over the Denver police chief's recommendation to impose a 20-day suspension without pay on Officer James Turney over the shooting last July of Paul Childs III.

The police union, however, argued that disciplinary action of any kind would be inappropriate for Turney, even though an internal police review found Turney did not follow proper procedure when he fired four shots into Childs. The 15-year-old Childs had mental retardation and epilepsy.

Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman announced his recommendation Thursday. The final decision over Turney's discipline rests with Al LaCabe, the city's Manager of Safety. LaCabe has until April 16 to decide on a disciplinary response, which could range from firing Turney to a written reprimand or to no action at all.

On Friday, the Greater Denver Ministerial Alliance called on Mayor John Hickenlooper to push for a minimum one-year suspension. An editorial in Friday's Denver Post urged LaCabe to fire Turney, calling the officer "an embarrassment to his profession and a liability to the city."

A group of about 40 protesters gathered in front of a police station to also demand that Turney be fired for shooting Childs.

"A slap in the wallet for Turney, a slap in the face for the city," said one of the protesters.

On July 5, the Childs family called police in the hopes that they could help calm Paul after a series of outbursts in his home. Turney drew his firearm even though two other officers, who were on the scene before him, had non-lethal Tasers. Turney shot Childs when the teen failed to follow police instructions to drop a kitchen knife he was clutching to his chest.

A neurologist later suggested that Childs' behavior prior to the shooting may have been caused by the after-effects of a massive seizure he had experienced a few days earlier.

The incident has prompted legislators to consider "Paul's Law", a measure that would require all law enforcement officers and dispatchers in Colorado to undergo crisis-intervention training, along with specific training on dealing with suspects who have mental illness or developmental disabilities. It also has prompted the family to prepare a federal civil rights suit against the police department, led by famous attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr.

The Denver Post editorial based its suggestion that Turney be fired on his part in the 2002 shooting death of Gregory Smith, a partially deaf 18-year-old, along with the fact that he threatened to kill his former mother-in-law one day before Childs' shooting.

No criminal charges were filed against Turney for either shooting. A misdemeanor charge for the threat against his mother-in-law was later dropped.

The Rev. Michael Thompson, who was Paul Childs' uncle, said the family will not accept anything less than Turney's dismissal.

"This man doesn't need to be on the street with a gun," the Reverend Michael Thompson told the Rocky Mountain News. "Our goal is to get Turney off the force, that's the goal."

"Don't give him a gun and put him back on the streets," Thompson said.

"Police chief urges suspension of cop" (Denver Post)
"Opinion: Turney should be fired" (Denver Post),1413,36%257E73%257E2056784,00.html
"1-year suspension urged for officer" (Rocky Mountain News)
"Cop's proposed suspension too lenient, protesters say" (Denver Post),1413,36%257E53%257E2061746,00.html
"The Death of Paul Childs III" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Study Focused On Hate Crimes Against Scots With Disabilities

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 5, 2004

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND--A joint study released Monday by Scotland's leading disability organization and national disability rights watchdog reveals that a large percentage of Scots with disabilities have been targets of hate crimes.

The 50-page study, entitled "Hate Crime Against Disabled People in Scotland: A Survey Report", is considered by the authors to be the first piece of research to look in-depth at hate crimes which Scots with disabilities experience.

Nearly 160 people with disabilities took part in the study.

Almost half of the respondents said that they had experienced verbal abuse, intimidation or physical attacks because of their disability. More than one-third of those incidents were of a physical nature. Nearly one-third said that they experienced attacks at least once a month.

Respondents said that most of the attacks were carried out by strangers in public places. As a result of the crimes, around three quarters of those questioned said they had made significant changes in their lives in order to feel safe. Around a third responded that they had to change their routines or avoid specific places, while twenty-five percent said they had moved entirely.

Most of those surveyed said they believed the police were of no help. Only 40 percent had reported the attacks to authorities. Some said that reporting the crimes only made things worse after the police left.

The study's authors recommended that hate crime laws be changed to protect people with disabilities; that police devise "innovative approaches" to how to support crime victims with disabilities -- some of whom may have trouble communicating with police; and that a sustained long-term campaign be launched "to tackle the prejudice which some people in society have towards disabled people."

"It is completely unacceptable that in the 21st century people find themselves victims of physical and verbal abuse and other types of crime, simply because they are perceived to be different," said DRC Scottish director Bob Benson in a press statement. "We hope this research will make a valuable contribution to the current debate on hate crime and encourage Scottish ministers to come up with new initiatives to tackle the problem."

"Hate Crime Against Disabled People in Scotland: A Survey Report" (Disability Rights Commission / Capability Scotland)

Microsoft Word format:
Adobe PDF format:
'My disability made me a target' (BBC News)



State Coroner Calls For Improving Railway Crossings

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 5, 2004

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA--The deaths of two wheelchair users have prompted the Victoria Coroner to call for improvement at the state's 709 pedestrian railway crossings, The Age news service reported Saturday.

Coroner Graeme Johnstone echoed demands by disability rights groups to upgrade railway crossings, but stopped short of endorsing their recommendations that underpasses or overpasses be built at all crossings. He said he realized it was not always economically feasible to do so.

Johnstone made the comments Friday while delivering his official findings into the deaths of Christopher Jones, 50, and Irena Gilewski, 41.

Jones, who had cerebral palsy, died in October 2002 after his wheelchair became trapped when the pedestrian gates automatically closed at a level crossing. Gilewski was struck and killed by a train six weeks later when her wheelchair got stuck in the tracks at another crossing.

Transport officials said that the government has committed $8.5 million to improve pedestrian crossings. In the past two years, nearly 50 crossings had been treated with compound surfaces to reduce the possibility of wheels getting caught in tracks.



Bookkeeper Starts Back To Work After Bureaucratic Mix-up

April 5, 2004

KENT, WASHINGTON--The following six paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Monday's King County Journal:

Erik Hill, 47, depends on an aide to get him out of bed and showered in the morning -- and on his brother or his 72-year-old father to get him to bed at night.

He has Friedreich's Ataxia, a rare, degenerative disease of the nervous system.

For years, even as his condition worsened, Hill ran Southend Bookkeeping and Tax Service.

Then, he says, in October of 2000 the Department of Social and Health Services told him he made too much money to qualify for continued aide care. "They told me I made too much. I said, 'You don't want me to work?'"

"I thought: 'Give me a break.' It was clear what my choices were -- getting help or being able to work. I did what I had to do: quit working."

More recently, Hill said, he was told that state rules would allow him to make more money.

Entire article:
"Nervous system disease hasn't sapped Kent man's will to work" (King County Journal)



ADA: A Brief Overview (Job Accommodation Network)

Signed into law on July 26 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act is a wide-ranging legislation intended to make American Society more accessible to people with disabilities.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives (One year ago):


Movie Theaters Must Offer Stadium Seating To Wheelchair Users, Judge Orders

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 4, 2003

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS--A federal judge on Tuesday ordered two large movie theater chains to offer seating in the more desirable "stadium" sections to people who use wheelchairs, the Associated Press reported.

Judge William G. Young ruled that National Amusements Inc. and Hoyts Cinemas Corp. violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by making wheelchair users sit in the lower seating areas or in aisles on the edge of the more popular stadium-style seats. Young said this was discriminatory because it provided "an inferior angle to the stadium seats."

Young's order does not force the film chains to change their seating immediately, but only when they do other renovations. The companies may still limit the amount of accessible seating, as long as it is not separated from the stadium section.

The U.S. attorney's office sued the chains in 2000, claiming their theaters denied equal access to patrons that use wheelchairs, by placing them in some of the worst seating areas of the movie houses.

Stan Eichner, litigation director of the Disability Law Center, praised Young's ruling.

"For too long, people with disabilities have been stuck in the least desirable sections of theaters, stadiums and ballparks," Stan Eichner, director of the Disability Law Center, told The Boston Globe. "Judge Young's decision is an important reaffirmation that integrated quality seating is an important value under the ADA."


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