Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What I Would Like President Obama To Address In His State Of The Union Address

Color photo of Presidential podium
I will resist the temptation to watch the end of the Canadiens vs. Predators game, do my civic duty, and watch the State Of The Union Address. Actually, I’m into this kind of thing, so it’s not really a hardship.

It’s pretty rare for presidents to talk about disability issues in these addresses, but not unheard of. Here is an admittedly idealistic list of things I would like the President to mention tonight … though I won’t be too surprised or disappointed if he doesn’t:

- If he talks about citizens killed by police … a hot-button issue he may well ignore altogether … I hope he mentions the risks to disabled people like Ethan Saylor, too.

- I really do hope he voices strong support for fully funding Social Security Disability, with a strong repudiation of panicky myths about SSDI being “out of control”.

- He should shame the Senate for still failing to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

- If he cites the ABLE Act as a rare example of bipartisan cooperation, it would be great if he would refer to it as a starting point, not a problem completely solved.

- It is always a good year to broach the subject of long term care, and double down on support for programs that enable the elderly and the disabled to live independently in their own homes.

- It would be an interesting moment right now … while he addresses income inequality and middle class stagnation ... to advocate a final end to paying sub-minimum wage to workers with disabilities.

I will be following the #SOTU4PWD hashtag during the speech. If there’s anything interesting in it, I will do a blog post about it tomorrow.


An Important Clarification On Assisted Suicide

Diane Coleman, Not Dead Yet - January 19, 2015

This statement from the disability rights organization Not Dead Yet was prompted by a specific, “inside baseball” sort of event, but the statement turns out to be a very effective explanation of why many disabled people and disability organizations oppose legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Plus, it underscores crucial differences between disability opposition to these causes and the “right to life” movement.

The disability rights argument against assisted suicide and euthanasia is almost entirely different than the traditional moral / religious arguments against them, and organizations like Not Dead Yet should not be conflated with conservative and religious organizations like the Family Research Council and Right To Life. There is definitely some overlap in regard to policy, but very little in ideology.

The fact that I oppose assisted suicide and euthanasia doesn’t indicate that I’m a right-winger or religious fundamentalist. Far, far from it. By the same token, agreement on this particular policy issue doesn’t mean that religious right groups necessarily understand or really care about the disability rights perspective.

You can see similar clarifications being mapped out right now over Senate Bill 334, which would ban abortion based on disability or gender. I admit, it’s messy. But the distinctions make sense and they are more or less consistent.