Monday, July 26, 2010

Reflections on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed by the first President Bush on this date in 1990. The ADA has undoubtedly done much to improve the lives of some disabled persons. It has improved access to transportation, jobs, and more:
Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, an original sponsor of the legislation, introduced a resolution last week saluting the people who helped bring the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

"Twenty years ago, we heard testimony from Americans who had to crawl on their hands and knees to go up a flight of stairs; who couldn't ride on a bus because there wasn't a lift; who couldn't even cross the street in their wheelchairs because there were no curb cuts,'' the resolution said.

"The ADA has broken down barriers, created opportunities and transformed lives."
Sadly, not all disabled persons have benefitted from the ADA. For all its positives, the ADA does not apply to the youngest of disabled persons. Unborn children with disabilities receive no protection, and they are the ones who need it most. Prenatal genetic diagnosis has been devastating for the Down Syndrome community; 90% of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome prenatally are aborted. (Those who survive may find themselves the subjects of lawsuits for "wrongful life.") There's also pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, which ends the lives of "defective" embryos before they even make it to the womb.

Kristan Hawkins, of Students for Life of America, writes in a Washington Examiner editorial that born children with disabilities are also at risk:
While most of America was on vacation, President Obama bypassed the Senate confirmation process and on July 7 appointed a radical, Dr. Donald Berwick, to the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the nation's Medicaid and Medicare system.

While I was helping my 1-year-old son, Gunner, do his life-prolonging breathing treatment, his president betrayed him and others who suffer from cystic fibrosis. Obama appointed a man who advocates rationing of health care and praises the disastrous British National Health Service to head one of the most important positions in the entire U.S. health care system.
Pro-lifers, let us mark the anniversary of the ADA by affirming our commitment to forming and strengthening alliances with disability rights advocates. Our struggle is the same: to ensure the equal rights of human beings who some consider unwanted or unworthy.

Further reading:
KIDS: Keep Infants with Down Syndrome is a great organization. You may also be interested in the work that disabled veteran Wayne Cockfield has been doing at the United Nations.

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