Disability news, Accessibility Issues, Disability Issues, Accessiblity News

Archive for October, 2008

Column: Palin fruit fly remark is ‘bad buzz’

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jerry Coyne says that Sarah Palin’s criticism of fruit flies during her disability speech demonstrates her ignorance and contempt for science. Fruit flies, he says, provide most of what we know about how genes are passed on in humans, as well as significant insights into epilepsy, Alzheimer’s and autism.

Why are the Republican candidates so contemptuous of science? I suppose it’s part of their general attack on “elitism,” which has been surprisingly effective. We white-coated nerds in our labs, fooling around with flies at taxpayer expense, are easy targets.

But America can’t afford cheap shots at science, because a lot of basic research has immense implications for human welfare — even if ignorant politicians can make it sound silly.

… Trying to bond with the American people by taking pride in your ignorance and making science the common enemy — now that’s a bridge to nowhere.

Jerry Coyne is a professor in the University of Chicago’s department of ecology and evolution.

See also:

UK woman loses assisted suicide bid

Friday, October 31st, 2008

From the [UK] Times:

Debbie Purdy, a UK woman with multiple sclerosis, has lost her landmark legal effort to gain permission for her husband to assist her in committing suicide. Ms. Purdy appealed to Parliament and said she would contest the High Court’s decision.

Ms. Purdy said she was seeking Parliamentary review of a law that makes assisting a suicide an offense punishable by up to 14 years in prison. She wants to know whether her husband, Omar Puente, will be prosecuted if he helps her travel abroad to a country where assisted suicide is legal.

She is gradually losing strength in her upper body, and has said she plans to travel to Switzerland to commit suicide when her disease worsens. She is a member of Dignitas, a Swiss organization that operates euthanasia clinics.

See earlier post here.

See also, in the New York Times:

On Washington state’s ballot: Doctor-assisted suicide

Polls have shown that more Washington voters support the initiative than oppose it, but, like the Oregon measure, it is controversial and closely contested. Religious groups, along with some advocates for the disabled and some doctors, aggressively oppose it, raising questions about ethics and the way the Oregon law has been carried out.

South Korean court: Only blind people can be masseurs

Friday, October 31st, 2008

From the New York Times, AFP:

South Korea’s Constitutional Court left in place a century-old goverment policy that allows only blind people to be licensed masseurs. The policy had been challenged by sighted masseurs who are working illegally, who said the law violated their constitutional right to choose jobs.

Blind masseurs have objected bitterly to the court challenge, waging protests that left three dead.

“Massage is in effect the only occupation available for the visually handicapped and there is little alternative to guarantee earnings for those persons,” the Constitutional Court said in a statement.

It said the livelihood of the blind outweighs the freedom of ordinary people to choose an occupation.

Earlier post here.

Pundit: Lack of Palin records raises questions about Trig

Friday, October 31st, 2008

From “The Daily Dish,” by conservative blogger and author Andrew Sullivan for the Atlantic Magazine:

Sullivan says Gov. Palin’s failure to release her medical records raises important questions about what he calls her “alleged fifth pregnancy.” He challenges the McCain campaign to make good its promise to produce documents proving that Trig Palin is actually Sarah Palin’s son. An excerpt:

Why does Sarah Palin refuse to prove that her baby — the baby that has been a campaign prop for two months — is actually one she gave birth to? Remember what we have been told by a McCain source about Palin:

“She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.”

If her own family doesn’t trust her, why should we? I’m begging the McCain campaign to make me look like a total fool for even wondering. Please, blow my skepticism out of the water.

Women with disabilities at high risk for abuse, assault

Friday, October 31st, 2008

From Reuters, UPI:

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that women with disabilities are more likely than other women to experience violence at the hands of their spouse or partner.

Dr. Brian Armour reported that 37.3 percent of women with a disability reported violent abuse, compared with 20.6 percent of women without a disability. More than 30 percent said they had been hit, slapped, pushed, kicked or physically hurt by an intimate partner, double the rate of other women.

The report, which compiled data from a large annual telephone survey of Americans, was presented at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in San Diego.

Press release from the American Public Health Association here.

Australia denies doctor residency because of son’s disability

Friday, October 31st, 2008

From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Melbourne Herald Sun, and the Associated Press:

A German doctor hoping to gain permanent residency in Australia says he plans to fight a government decision to exclude him because his 13-year-old son has Down syndrome.

Dr. Bernhard Moeller is the only internal medicine specialist in Horsham, a rural community of 20,000 people in the state of Victoria, and works as the only full-time physician at the local hospital. He came to the town two years ago in response to a government request for help with a rural doctor shortage.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship wrote to Dr. Moeller that he could not be granted permanent residency because his son “did not meet the health requirement.” A copy of the decision said care for Lukas was “likely to result in significant costs to the Australian community in health care and community services”.

An immigration department spokesman said officials were legally bound to reject an application if a medical officer judged that the applicant posed a significant cost burden. The family plans an appeal.


Palin’s ‘major policy’ speech: Vague promises, no platform

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

Guest commentary (exclusive to PatriciaEBauer.com)

By Paul K. Longmore

On Friday, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin delivered a talk on “special needs children” that’s being described as her “first major policy speech.”  (“Palin’s Speech on Children with Special Needs,” October 24, 2008.)

As someone who grew up with a significant disability and faced bias and discrimination, I commend her for affirming the value of disabled children’s lives.  Unfortunately she also indulges in a sentimentalism that undermines disability rights advocacy.  But what’s most significant in this speech is her discussion of public policies.  This is important to examine because, according to NBC News, some parents of kids with disabilities are “flocking” to her campaign events.  Desperate to get politicians to pay attention to their difficult family situations, they are looking to her to be, as she promises, “a friend and advocate” tasked by John McCain to make “special needs children” one of her primary “missions.”  Those parents—not to mention tens of millions of other voters with and without disabilities who are concerned about disability issues—want to know what policies a McCain-Palin or an Obama-Biden administration would pursue.  So, what policies is Palin proposing, and what is her track record as an advocate?

In her speech, Palin said she would discuss “three policy proposals.”  Her explanations of them turned out to be vague and unspecific.

I’ll take the third one first.  It is the vaguest.  She promised to “reform and refocus” the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, “modernizing” it so that “we can better serve students with disabilities in our high schools and community colleges.”  What this means specifically is anybody’s guess.

Her first proposal has gotten the most attention: a McCain-Palin administration would give parents “choices” about what schools, whether public or private, they want to send their disabled children to.  Apparently their administration would establish a voucher program.


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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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