Disability Groups Support "Disabled Persons' Lifesaving Habeas Corpus Review Act"

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National disability groups support a newly-introduced bill that would provide for habeas corpus review relating to people subject to non-voluntary death through starvation and dehydration.

Today, U.S. Representative Dave Weldon introduced the “Disabled Persons Lifesaving Habeas Corpus Review Act.”

This bill would provide for federal habeas corpus review of disputed state court rulings ordering the withholding of food and water from legally incapacitated persons who did not leave a written advance directive or choose their own substitute decision-maker.

If passed, this law would affect the case of Terri Schiavo, whose starvation and dehydration is scheduled to begin on March 18th, as well as others similarly situated. The non-voluntary and involuntary starvation and dehydration of people with disabilities is a more prevalent problem than most people realize.

The involvement and concern of disability groups in this issue may come as a surprise to many policymakers. Unfortunately, the media has ignored the disability interests in what has been commonly and erroneously referred to as a “right to die” issue. In doing so, they have portrayed the debate as right-wing religious conservatives versus the political left. They have ignored the seventeen national disability rights organizations that have filed three amicus briefs about the denials of due process that may lead to a disabled woman’s death. For an explanation of the disability perspective on the due process violations in the Schiavo case, we refer you to a letter to the ACLU of Florida from the national disability organization, Not Dead Yet, linked below.

The Disability Groups supporting the bill as of March 7, 2005, are:

·    Center on Self-Determination

·    Freedom Clearinghouse

·    Hospice Patients Alliance

·    Mouth Magazine

·    National Spinal Cord Injury Association

·    Not Dead Yet

·    Society for Disability Studies

·    World Association of Persons with Disabilities

For more information on the nature of the concerns of disability rights groups concerning Terri Schiavo, please read NDY’s letter to the Florida ACLU at: http://www.notdeadyet.org/docs/schiavoaclultr1004.html

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Stephen Drake
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