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, July 7, 2004
Year V, Edition 966

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 39 more news items.

"More and more, the net worth of the handicapped and the frail elderly is being computed by quality of life calculus, cost benefit ratios and functional capacity studies. In this environment, the State clearly has a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of the medical profession by preventing it from falling into this utilitarian trap."

--From a brief filed for Florida Governor Jeb Bush, defending the law he championed to keep Terri Schiavo alive (First story)



Governor Bush Claims Terri's Law Was Legal And Necessary

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 7, 2004

TAMPA, FLORIDA--The law that has kept Terri Schiavo alive for the past nine months was constitutional and necessary to protect her rights and those of other people with certain disabilities, attorneys for Governor Jeb Bush wrote in their initial brief to the Florida Supreme Court filed Tuesday.

The brief outlined the governor's arguments to a suit brought by Terri's husband and guardian, Michael Schiavo, which claimed that Bush and the Legislature violated the Florida constitution, along with her right to right to privacy, when it passed "Terri's Law" last October. The law ordered doctors to reinsert a feeding tube into Terri's stomach six days after it had been removed under an earlier court order.

Attorneys Ken Connor and Camille Godwin wrote in their 62-page brief that the state has both "a compelling interest" and "an absolute duty" to protect the rights of "a discrete category of patients who were particularly vulnerable to abuse, exploitation or mistake". They pointed out that legislators wanted the law written to correct a gap in the state's Life-Prolonging Procedures Act which allowed for food and nutrition to be withdrawn from certain citizens with disabilities.

Terri's Law, they argued, does not allow the state to intrude into a person's private decision except in instances "when no written advance directive exists, where a family member has disputed the withholding of nutrition and hydration, where a court has found the patient to be in a persistent vegetative state, and where a family member has challenged the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration".

"The right to life is that right without which no other right can exist," Connor and Godwin wrote. "All other rights, no matter how fundamental, derive from and depend upon the right to life . . . The right to privacy, so heavily relied on by the circuit court in this case, means nothing to a corpse."

"More and more, the net worth of the handicapped and the frail elderly is being computed by quality of life calculus, cost benefit ratios and functional capacity studies. In this environment, the State clearly has a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of the medical profession by preventing it from falling into this utilitarian trap."

Some medical experts have said that Terri, 40, has been in a "persistent vegetative state" -- that she is not awake or aware, cannot feel pain, and will not recover -- since she collapsed and her brain was without oxygen for several minutes in February 1990. While she does not need a ventilator or other artificial means to stay alive, she does receive food and water through a gastronomy tube installed through the wall of her stomach.

Mr. Schiavo first petitioned the court in 1998 to have Terri's feeding tube removed so she would die. He claimed that his wife told him before her collapse that she would not have wanted to live by artificial means.

Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, have been fighting Mr. Schiavo in the courts to keep their daughter alive. They believe Terri is responsive and interacts with her surroundings and would benefit from therapies that her husband has refused to allow. The Schindlers do not accept Mr. Schiavo's claims that Terri would have wanted to die in her situation, partly because that would have meant that she would have gone against her Catholic faith which teaches that removing her feeding tube would be wrong.

Bush's attorneys are pushing for a jury trial to look at what Terri's wishes would be today, and to answer at least nine questions which linger regarding Mr. Schiavo's ability to represent his wife's best interests. Two of those questions have to do with the fact that Mr. Schiavo did not mention what he now claims were Terri's wishes during a 1992 malpractice suit, at the same time that he presented evidence regarding the cost of a life-long care plan. That malpractice trial brought more than $700,000 for Terri's care during her natural life, which medical experts agreed could last several decades.

Other questions focused on claims by the Schindlers and others suggesting that Mr. Schiavo has abused and exploited his wife -- before and after her collapse -- and what Terri would have thought of the fact that her husband has since fathered two children with another woman.

Since Mr. Schiavo's case against the governor has to do in part with Terri's right to privacy, the Governor at a minimum should be able to "have an evidentiary hearing at a bare minimum on this issue".

Disability rights groups have been following Terri's situation for years, arguing that allowing her to die by starvation would reinforce the message that the lives of people with certain disabilities are not worth living. With their urging, and that of right-to-life advocates, Governor Bush championed the measure which allowed the Legislature to give him permission to order Terri's feeding tube reinserted on October 22.

According to the brief, "people with incapacitating disabilities are vulnerable to all manner of abuse, exploitation or mistake, because they cannot speak for themselves or defend themselves. Unable to communicate their needs and wishes, they must rely on others to act as substitute decision-makers. The laws of this state endeavor to provide rules and procedures to ensure that the wishes of the ward are respected."

Florida courts have consistently sided with Mr. Schiavo in the case. In May, a Pinellas Circuit Court determined that "Terri's Law" was unconstitutional. The state's appeals court allowed the case to go directly to the Supreme Court, where arguments will take place August 31.

Jeb Bush v. Michael Schiavo (Supreme Court of Florida)
[PDF format requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader]
Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
"Terri Schiavo's Right To Live" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Boy Died From Medication, Not Exorcism, Preacher's Defense Claims

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 7, 2004

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN--Eight-year-old Terrance Cottrell Jr. did not die from efforts to exorcize the "evil spirits" of autism out of his body, but from prescription medications which sedated him, a Milwaukee court heard Tuesday.

Ray Hemphill, 47, is on trial for felony physical abuse of a child causing great bodily harm in Cottrell's suffocation death last summer. If convicted, the self-described pastor of the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and five more on extended supervision and up to $25,000 in fines.

The local medical examiner ruled Cottrell's death a homicide after determining that he died from "mechanical asphyxia due to external chest compression" on August 22. Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann said last year that he didn't think a homicide charge would stick because he could not prove Hemphill knew that what he did would likely kill the boy.

Hemphill told police that he had been holding special prayer services during the previous three weeks to remove "evil spirits" from the boy. Hemphill, who weighed 157 pounds, said that he would sit on "Junior's" chest for up to two hours at a time.

On the night of Cottrell's death Hemphill held the 12th such prayer service. The boy's shoes had been removed and he was wrapped in a sheet to keep him from scratching parishioners. Three women -- including the child's mother, Patricia Cooper -- sat on his arms and legs while Hemphill sat on his chest. One woman said she pushed down on the boy's diaphragm several times during the service.

While parishioners told police that they noticed the boy had made strange noises and had urinated on himself, none noticed when he died.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Assistant District Attorney Mark S. Williams told the jury Tuesday that Hemphill went "chest-to-chest" with the struggling boy to bring about God's help in getting rid of the demons he thought caused Cottrell's autism.

"Autistic children don't like to be touched," Williams said. "They do not like to be held in any way."

Defense attorney Thomas Harris said the rituals, held in the strip-mall church, were orderly and involved "nothing reckless" that would have endangered the boy's life.

Harris blamed the boy's death not on Hemphill's actions but on prescription medications. Harris pointed to a toxicologist report showing the medical examiner found toxic levels of the antihistamine brompheneramine and the antipsychotic ziprasidone, which is used to treat schizophrenia, rage and aggression, in the boy's blood.

Charges have not been filed against the boy's mother or other parishioners that participated in the fatal prayer service.

The trial is being televised live on Court TV.

Laws in 20 states protect those who commit felony crimes against children when a religious defense is used, Rita Swan, president of Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty, told Court TV.

"Minister faces five years in prison after killing boy during exorcism" (Court TV)
"Terrence Cottrell: Death By Exorcism" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Water Skiers Protest Proposed Speed Limits

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 7, 2004

LAKE WINDERMERE, ENGLAND--The Lake District National Park Authority has decided to lower the speed limit for boats on Windermere, England's largest lake, to make it a more peaceful place to visit.

In an effort to stop the use of speed boats, most of the lake will have a 10 mile-per-hour limit beginning in March, except for the busiest areas which will have a 6 mph speed limit.

But Gerald Price, a 71-year-old champion water skier and founding member of the British Disabled Water-Ski Association, says he plans to break the new speed laws when they go into effect.

Price, who has been blind since age 23, told the BBC that Lake Windermere has been used regularly by his team for training purposes and that they do not intend to change their plans to accommodate the Park Authority's whims.

"If we are turned down by the authority I will break the law to continue my sport, where I feel we have a right to do it on lake Windermere," he said. "Water-skiing will not stop, it will spread."

The authority was asked to grant special permission to Price's group on Tuesday, but officials said the speed limit would apply to everyone.

Former Sports and Culture Minister Kate Hoey and former Environment Minister John Gummer, have joined hundreds of protesters who oppose the proposed speed laws. Local businesses, which have been struggling since the foot-and-mouth crisis of 2001, also complained that the new limits would devastate the regional economy.

A Cumbria County website boasts that Lake Windermere is 10.5 miles long and approximately one mile wide, making it ideal for water sports and for scenic hiking.

Price has representing Britain five times in World Disabled Championships, bringing back one gold, four silver and six bronze water ski medals. In 1987, he became the first blind water-ski jump world champion.

"When you see what water skiing has done for so many disabled people, just to find there are buffoons who want to take the sport away from us is evil," Price told the Westmoreland Gazette two years ago over the proposed speed limit.

British Disabled Water Ski Association



Nine Months Not Enough For Locking Boys In Cages

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 7, 2004

OSHAWA, ONTARIO--An Ontario court has issued a nine-month sentence to a couple for abusing their adoptive sons and locking them in wire mesh cages.

The sentence, announced Monday by Ontario Court Judge Donald Halikowski, means that the couple will likely spend just three months behind bars because provincial jail guidelines allow prisoners to be released on full parole after serving one-third of their sentences. Prosecutors had asked for the wife to serve up to eight years and the husband to serve five years for the crimes.

"Both accused share equal responsibility as parents. Both failed." Judge Halikowski said. "What started out as good intentions descended darkly into abusive behavior . . . ending in near torture."

The husband and wife pleaded guilty in January to forcible confinement, assault with a weapon and neglect of the boys, who are their biological nephews. The names of the couple have not been named in order to protect the privacy of the sons who are now 17 and 18 years of age and are living in foster care.

"I don't feel justice has been served," the younger son told the Globe and Mail after the sentence was announced. "I feel they should get more time."

The top government attorney in Oshawa agreed, and has already issued an appeal to the Ministry of the Attorney General requesting a review of Halikowski's ruling.

A tip from a relative three years ago led police and child-care authorities to the remote farmhouse where they rescued the boys from what they later described as one of the worst abuse situations they had ever seen.

Investigators later learned that the couple subjected the brothers to "near torture" for a period of 13 years. The boys told of being beaten, tied to their beds, handcuffed and locked overnight in a makeshift cage. They said they were forced to wear diapers because they couldn't get to the bathroom, and that they were in such fear of being punished for soiling themselves that they sometimes ate and drank their own wastes.

At a later hearing, the couple's defense argued that the boys have attention deficit disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome which made it more difficult for the parents to cope. The government's attorneys disputed those claims.

"There is no doubt they were difficult to raise," said Halikowski, according to a story from Canadian Television.



Folks With Disabilities Need Support To Navigate System

July 7, 2004

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO--The following two paragraphs are excerpts from Tuesday's Albuquerque Tribune by disability issues columnist Barbara J. McKee:

The non-elderly disabled population in this country faces a unique set of problems that can swallow a person whole. To list them all, decipher them coherently and figure out how to jump through the hoops takes time, patience and perseverance. Many people require a lawyer or a savvy family member to keep things on track.

I'm lucky I have that support. Those who don't must rely on the kindness of strangers.

Entire article:
"Jumping through hoops: Without support, non-elderly disabled find the going rough"(Albuquerque Tribune)



Center for Neighborhood Technology

The Center for Neighborhood Technology has a unique mission: To invent and implement new tools and methods that create livable urban communities for everyone.


# From the IDE Archives -- Two years ago:

"She Now Has A Window With A View" by Terry Boisot
July 3, 2002

GOLETA, CALIFORNIA--What a difference a few months and a move to the community makes.

In February, Terry Boisot introduced us to a woman she met at a large California institution. That woman, whom Boisot referred to as "Mary", lived in a depressingly barren room with no windows, no pets, no decorations, no privacy -- no color.

Boisot recently visited Mary who moved out of the institution and into her own place a few weeks ago.

"This time everything was different," Boisot wrote. "Everything."

"She Now Has a Window with a View" (
"She Can Hardly Wait To Move And She's Afraid To Leave" (The


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