Also in 2005, a young female Chicago area nursing home resident with profound disabilities was raped by a male worker, who later confessed to the crime. Her pregnancy was not discovered until she had reached seven months. Though the woman had the child, the baby now lives with her grandmother..
These cases followed on the heels of the very well-publicized 2005 death by starvation of Terri Schiavo, another fellow woman with a disability.
The first two cases attracted some media interest but did not garner a significant, organized outcry from the disability community, or from family groups or the medical community. To fill the gap of community response, F.R.I.D.A. was born.
F.R.I.D.A.'s goals from inception have been the following:
Open Wide is an effort to advocate for accessible hospitals, not only building accessibility but accessibility of diagnostic testing equipment and services. For example, a critical problem facing disabled women is a lack of accessible examining tables. Women with disabilities have to do without exams accessible by nondisabled women. As a result, they lack the same standard of care.
The Pad Patrol addresses the underground issue of sanitary napkin provision in nursing homes and institutions. Pads must be provided to residents who need them, under Federal Medicaid/Medicare regulations. Unfortunately, menstruating women are sometimes subjected to unnecessary and unconsented chemical suppression of their periods, or not provided with enough pads to cover their periods. Women may also not be taught how to use pads properly. Given that menstruation is considered a very private issue, it is difficult to uncover cases of outright abuse in which the victim is willing to pursue legal action against the nursing home. The Pad Patrol tries to offer help in situations of immediate need, while encouraging victims to file complaints or seek legal help.
The Ashley X/AMA campaign originated in response to the case of nine-year-old Ashley X of Washington. Ashley was reported to have a significant cognitive disability and was labeled with a developmental age of three months. Her parents initially sought home care support in caring for Ashley, but gave up and instead chose a medical intervention that they stated would make Ashley more comfortable.
Ashley's parents and doctors decided to remove her uterus and breast buds, in addition to having her undergo estrogen therapy to keep her at about a foot shorter than her expected height. The treatment was aimed at keeping Ashley small and easy to move, and more comfortable without large breasts.
F.R.I.D.A., along with several other major disability organizations, objected to a surgical/medical solution to the social problem of lack of qualified supports for families such as Ashley's. Thousands of people with profound cognitive disabilities, and their families, suffer from a lack of quality, well-funded home support services. In addition, F.R.I.D.A. felt that medical procedures on a person who is unable to communicate is ethically suspect without an impartial advocate.
F.R.I.D.A., along with Not Dead Yet and ADAPT, led a protest at the AMA in January 2007 to demand that the medical community dialogue with the disability community on the case of Ashley X. In addition, F.R.I.D.A. demanded that the AMA issue a statement condemning the ethics of the case, as well as a statement supporting the Community Service Act (CSA), which would provide for a nationwide system for community-based supports for people with disabilities.
In May 2007, the Washington state protection and advocacy agency, Disability Rights Washington, found that Ashley's civil rights were violated because a court order was not obtained for her sterilization. Her parents had not sought the court order because their legal counsel advised that the sterilization was a secondary effect of the "treatment."
In June 2007, F.R.I.D.A., Not Dead Yet, and ADAPT members protested at the AMA Annual Meeting in Chicago to ask that the AMA dialogue on disability concerns.
In September 2007, 400 ADAPT advocates surrounded the AMA headquarters building in Chicago to again demand dialogue on disability concerns, particularly support for the Community Choice Act.
In October 2007, the AMA issued a release stating that it now supports the Community Choice Act.
F.R.I.D.A. continues to work on its campaigns locally in Chicago and to network throughout the world on feminist disability rights concerns.
KNOWING OUR MINDS FOR MANY, THE SCHIAVO CASE HINGED ON THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO CONTROL THEIR OWN FATES. BUT WHEN IT COMES TO EXTRAORDINARY MEDICAL DECISIONS-AND THE ORDINARY BUSINESS OF LIVING - THE IDEAL OF INDIVIDUAL AUTONOMY IS NOT SO SIMPLE.
Apr 03, 2005; UNDERLYING ALL the bitter, emotional debate about Terri Schiavo is a fundamental set of questions about her autonomy: Did she,...