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.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004
Year V, Edition 946

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the"Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 36 more news items.

"The Internet has changed the world, and its biggest impact has been on the disability community."

--Albuquerque Tribune columnist Barbara J. McKee (Fifth story)

"If he doesn't have the authority to act, he has no right to sue the governor."
--Pat Anderson, attorney for the family of Terri Schiavo, which is challenging her husband's right to be her guardian and to represent her interests in a suit against Florida Governor Jeb Bush (Third story)



Voters With Disabilities Could Alter Election Outcome, N.O.D. President Says

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 2, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC--A survey shows that voters with disabilities could make the difference in the November general election, according to the president of the National Organization on Disability.

In a June 1 press release, N.O.D.'s Alan Reich said that the 40 million Americans with disabilities who are of voting age could become an important swing constituency in the Presidential election.

"Many Americans with disabilities are attuned to the legislative and political processes because they recognize that achieving the changes that will improve their lives in policies and practices can't be left to chance," Reich said. "They will vote for candidates who incorporate their priorities as they address the needs of the nation."

Reich cited a Harris Interactive survey conducted in April which showed that 42 percent of respondents who identified themselves as having a disability said they would vote to re-elect Republican President George Bush, while 39 percent would vote for Democratic Senator John Kerry, and 14 percent would vote for Ralph Nader. This compared to the 43 percent of people without disabilities who said they would vote for President Bush and 45 percent for Senator Kerry in the same survey.

Reich added that Americans with disabilities -- which make up about one-fifth of the entire population -- are less tied to a specific party or to labels of 'liberal' or 'conservative' than other voters.

"We're reminding candidates that the American public includes the many voices of persons with disabilities, those individuals vote, and their votes matter," Reich explained. "They belong to all parties, and many vote based on issues quite distinct from their disability experience."

"But candidates who reach out to this community with solid, effective proposals, and demonstrate a comfort and familiarity with disability issues, will catch the attention of this potentially critical voting bloc."

The non-profit, nonpartisan N.O.D. has championed get-out-the-vote campaigns within the disability community and has tracked voting preferences since the 1988 general election.

According to a Harris Interactive poll conducted at the 2000 Presidential election, 56 percent of people identifying themselves as having a disability voted for Democratic Vice President Al Gore, compared to 38 percent for then Governor George Bush.

May 3, 2004: "The Disability Vote Made History in 2000. In 2004, It May Do So Again." (National Organization On Disability)



Abortions Based On Disability Are On The Rise In Britain

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 2, 2004

LONDON, ENGLAND--Fetuses determined to have Down syndrome are being aborted at a rate higher than those which are allowed to be born, a study of Welsh and English pregnancy has revealed.

According the latest data from 2002 compiled by the National Congenital Anomaly System, there were 372 abortions performed on fetuses with Down syndrome, compared to just 329 live births of such babies in Wales and England.

Britain's 1967 Abortion Act makes it legal for a mother to chose an abortion for any reason until the 24th week of her pregnancy. But abortions can be performed right up to the due date under "grounds E", that is, where "there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped".

The NCAS report in the Summer 2004 journal Health Statistics Quarterly, showed that a total of 1,863 abortions were carried out in 2002 under grounds E, compared with 1,722 the previous year.

The number of abortions carried out because of "chromosomal abnormalities" increased 17 percent from the previous year -- 591 were aborted in 2001 while 690 were aborted in 2002.

One pregnancy was terminated in 2002 because of cleft lip and palate, five were ended because of "deformities of feet", and three others were aborted because of "limb reductions".

NCAS has been collecting data on live births, still births, abortions and miscarriages of "congenital anomalies" since 1964.

"Congenital anomaly statistics: notifications, 2002, England and Wales"-- Starts on page 63 (Health Statistics Quarterly)
[PDF format requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader]



Terri Schiavo Case To Be Fast-Tracked To Florida Supreme Court;
Attorneys Challenge Michael Schiavo's Guardianship

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 2, 2004

LAKELAND, FLORIDA--The legal battle over Terri Schiavo's life will bypass a lower court to be moved quickly to the Florida Supreme Court, several news sources reported Wednesday.

The state's 2nd Court of Appeal agreed with attorneys representing Terri's husband, Michael, to allow his challenge to "Terri's Law" to go directly to the high court as soon as possible.

The law was championed by Governor Jeb Bush, and passed by the Legislature last October, allowing a feeding tube be reinserted into Terri's stomach just six days after it had been removed under a court order. Michael Schiavo immediately sued the governor claiming the law was unconstitutional because it violated Terri's right to privacy and gave the governor too much power to overrule Florida courts.

Last month, Pinellas Circuit Court Judge W. Douglas Baird sided with Mr. Schiavo. Attorneys for the governor have appealed Baird's decision.

The Supreme Court can choose to hear the case or send it back to the appeals court for its ruling.

Mr. Schiavo and several doctors have said that Terri, 40, has been in a "persistent vegetative state" since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. Terri breathes on her own, but requires food and water through a gastronomy tube installed through the wall of her stomach.

Mr. Schiavo has insisted for several years that his wife told him before the collapse that she would not have wanted to live "by artificial means". He first petitioned the courts to have her feeding tube pulled in 1998.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have fought to keep their daughter alive. They claim that she is alert and responds to them and her environment, and would benefit from therapies that Mr. Schiavo has denied her. They suspect that their son-in-law has abused and exploited Terri and may have caused her initial collapse. They believe he wants his wife to die so he can marry a woman with home he has fathered two children.

On Tuesday, the governor's attorneys filed a motion requesting that all appeals be stopped until it is decided whether Mr. Schiavo has the authority to represent his wife in the case against Bush. The attorneys want a trial to determine whether Terri had ever indicated she wanted to die in such a situation.

An attorney for the Schindlers is also challenging Mr. Schiavo's capacity to represent his wife's interest in the case against the governor, according to the Associated Press.

"If he doesn't have the authority to act, he has no right to sue the governor," Pat Anderson said.

Disability rights advocates have watched Terri's situation closely, noting that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. Last October, tens of thousands of disability rights and right-to-life advocates flooded the offices of the governor and key lawmakers to push for action on Terri's behalf after her feeding tube had been removed. "Terri's Law" was passed through the Legislature in near-record time, giving Bush permission to order the feeding tube reinserted six days after it had been removed.

"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation



Boy's Killer Mom Walks; Judge Blames Social Services For Death

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 2, 2004

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA--August 4 of last year was like any other day, Daniela Dawes told the Channel 9 television program "A Current Affair" Wednesday night.

"I prepared for work that day, I showered, I got dressed, I prepared Jason's things for school, just like every day," she said.

Then she went to her 10-year-old son's bed and used her hand to pinch closed his nose and mouth -- until he suffocated to death.

Mrs. Dawes then tried killing herself by slashing her wrists. She was rescued by her mother.

Dawes was released Wednesday on a five-year "good behavior bond", which is similar to probation, after being convicted on a reduced charge of manslaughter in the death of her son, who had autism.

New South Wales District Court Judge Roy Ellis said that the 39-year-old Dawes, who experienced severe depression at the time of the crime, "had suffered enough" and that no sentence he could give would compare to the punishment she would continue to inflict upon herself. He said there was no compelling reason for her to remain in custody.

Judge Ellis went on to slam social service agencies for not providing enough assistance to the Dawes family, which was dealing with marital problems along with the high level of care that Jason required.

"Having regard to the material before me, it is clear that the present system within NSW leaves a lot to be desired and was a significant stressor for this offender over an extended period of time," the judge told the court upon sentencing.

"It is little wonder this offender was unable to cope on the morning of the 4th of August 2003," he said.

Dawes agreed to appear on "A Current Affair" after arranging for $10,000 to go to an undisclosed person other than herself or her daughter. Australian law does not allow people convicted of a major crime to benefit financially from it.

"He wasn't the problem," Dawes said of her son. "Well, he was difficult. But the struggle with autism is a long-term struggle, but Jason's disability was not the reason for my depression . . . Of course it had to contribute, in that life was never easy."

The case reminded many of a similar New Zealand case from more than five years ago.

In October 1998, Janine Albury Thomson was charged with the strangulation murder of her 17-year-old daughter Casey, who also had autism.

Like in the Dawes case, Thomson was tried for murder but convicted of manslaughter in her daughter's death. She was sentenced to serve four years in prison, but the Court of Appeal later reduced her sentence to 18 months following pressure from the public.

Mrs. Thomson was released after serving just five months.

"Child murder case highlights lack of services for carers of disabled" (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)



"Differently-Abled People Can Find Both Work, Joy On The Net"

June 2, 2004

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO--The following three articles are excerpts from Tuesday's column by Albuquerque Tribune's Barbara J. McKee:

I've been an Internet junkie for more than 10 years. After my brother gave me my first computer, I was hooked into a global village with many names but few faces.

In junior college, I listened to a professor talk about how the Internet would change the world. We students rolled our eyes and kept quiet, ignorant of the accuracy of his prediction. The Internet has changed the world, and its biggest impact has been on the disability community.

People will argue that most of the money made on the World-Wide Web is through pornography, but big money isn't what I'm talking about. For people with disabilities, the Internet has opened the gates to earning a decent living.

Entire article:
"Web for all: Differently-abled people can find both work, joy on the Net" (Albuquerque Tribune)
Disabled Online Users Association



Educating Students with Disabilities in General Education Classrooms: A Summary of the Research

We hear and read a lot about school improvement, school reform and restructuring. However, educators still have many questions about how to provide a quality education for students with disabilities in school. This document shares current research on achievement and successful practices, related to educating students with disabilities in inclusive general education classrooms.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives (Four years ago):

Virginia Governor Orders DNA Testing Redone In Murder Case
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 2, 2000
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA--In a rare move yesterday, Governor James S. Gilmore III ordered that new DNA tests be performed to help determine if a man was unjustly convicted of murder 17 years ago. The move is the first time the governor has ordered DNA testing after a person was convicted of a crime.

The case involves Earl Washington Jr who was sentenced to death after he confessed to raping and murdering a woman in 1982. Governor L. Douglas Wilder commuted the sentence to life in prison in 1994, because of doubt as to whether Washington, who reportedly has an IQ of 69, actually did the killing.

Pointing to several irregularities in his confession, his defenders continue to accuse police of asking him leading questions and pressured him to confess. For example, Washington was unable to accurately identify the victim's race, he claimed that he stabbed the woman twice (she was actually stabbed 38 times) and said he killed her alone (she was murdered in front of her two children).

The DNA testing is expected to determine whether bodily fluids found on the woman's body belonged to Washington. The tests are considered much more sophisticated than those done in 1993 which were unable to determine whether or not Washington and another man had sex with the murder victim.

If these tests further suggest the man's innocence, Gilmore could pardon him and have him released.

Prosecutors and police stand behind the original confession and say that even if the test results show that he did not rape the woman, it is possible that he could have killed her after somebody else rape her.

"Earl Washington Jr." (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)


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