Think About This
Amid reports of surges, peaks and severe shortages in testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), patient ventilators, and ICU beds, states are drafting crisis standards of care to guide clinical decision-making during the Covid-19 pandemic. Debates about who will get this equipment and who will be admitted to hospital ICU beds isn’t an abstract topic just for bioethicists, it’s a very real one for people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations.
Ari Ne’eman, a visiting scholar at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University and a doctoral student in health policy at Harvard University, wrote a compelling opinion essay, I Will Not Apologize for My Needs, published last month by The New York Times.
He wrote, “At its core, these debates are about value — the value we place on disabled life and the value we place on disability nondiscrimination. When Congress passed the Americans With Disabilities Act 30 years ago, did it do so as a form of charity limited to times of plenty? Or was our country serious about disability as a civil rights issue? Charity can end when resources are scarce — civil rights must continue, even if doing so imposes a cost in time, money and even lives. People with disabilities have an equal right to society’s scarce resources, even in a time of crisis.”