Wednesday, September 27, 2006

In case you didn't catch it earlier, the following story was posted about a month ago about disability reproductive rights. Anyone got follow-up? Please contact us.

August 24, 2006

NEW YORK — C-FAM) The government of Nicaragua led a charge of 23 nations at UN headquarters this week objecting to the inclusion of "sexual and reproductive health services" in what will become a treaty on the rights of the disabled. Nicaragua's UN Ambassador objected to the phrase because he said it was vague and undefined. He also called the phrase too controversial to include in the document.

Negotiators are meeting in New York for what they hope will be the final two weeks of a multi-year negotiation that will lead to a hard-law treaty protecting the rights of the disabled. Following Nicaragua's objection was a wide range of governments including United States, Honduras, Egypt, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Tanzania, Tunisia, Qatar, Kenya, and the Philippines. In a move that surprised everyone in the room even usually liberal Norway joined in the objection to including "sexual and reproductive health services" into the document.

The controversial nature of the phrase is that though the UN has never defined the phrase, it has been used by radical non-governmental organizations and by some UN committees to get governments to legalize abortion. "Reproductive health" has only ever been defined once as including abortion and that was in the non-binding document produced by the Cairo Conference on Population and Development. It has never been defined in a hard-law treaty which would be binding on nations that ratify.

Despite the overwhelming opposition, the committee chair, Ambassador Donald McKay of New Zealand, insisted that nations continue to negotiate the matter. Peter Smith, UN representative of the London based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children remarked "even the chairman seems to be negotiating.

" Traditionally in UN meetings if even a few countries object to certain language it is removed since the UN works by consensus. It was clear as the afternoon progressed that the chairman wanted to retain the controversial language even though so many countries objected. At one point he was even admonished by the Egyptian delegate for not remaining impartial.
A number of governments spoke in favor of the language, including the European Union, Canada, Peru, Cuba, and Brazil.

Another surprising development at this negotiation was the active participation of non-governmental organizations in the actual governmental negotiation. Traditionally, NGOs are allowed into the room and are allowed to press their case with delegates between sessions. In this meeting, however, the chairman is allowing NGOs to speak during negotiations on the specific paragraph being negotiated, just like governments.

The other controversial language the negotiators have to decide by the end of next week is whether the disabled have to the right to "experience their sexuality." Though one knows what this phrase really means, it is being supported by the European Union and other liberal governments. In negotiations Thursday afternoon, 21 countries objected to this phrase.
It is likely that the debate on these phrases will continue into next week and will likely not be decided until the wee hours on the final day.

Copyright 2006 - C-FAM (Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute).
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

You gotta get girls with disabilities started early on understanding themselves and their rights. Check out the workshop posting below. How fabulous can this get? This training will be run by two FRIDA members. Get in touch with them ASAP if you're interested because they've been getting calls from around the world about this. It doesn't matter if you're from Smalltown USA or outside the US though. Just call these guys today to see what's up.WORKSHOP ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Between Me You and Liberation:
Starting a Group for Girls with Disabilities

The creators of a groundbreaking program for girls with disabilities are hosting a 3-day intensive national workshop for women interested in learning more about how to build a gender-conscious, disability proud, safe space for girls.

This very interactive workshop will take you through everything you need to think about to start your own group for girls with disabilities including:
-curriculum development
-group dynamics
-capacity building
-and more!

When: May 2007 (exact days to be announced)

Where: Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago
(one of the country's best known Centers for Independent Living)

Cost: FREE ($500 stipend available to help you cover costs of attending)

Only 12 participants accepted.

It will be designed and facilitated by the co-coordinators of the Empowered Fe Fes (Fe Fes is slang for female), an ongoing group for girls with disabilities since 1999. The Fe Fes are best known for their award-winning movies about disability identity, bullying, and sexuality.

Are you interested?
call Susan Nussbaum or Ana Mercado
Voice: 1-800-613-8549
TTY: 1-888-253-7003
or email:

Monday, September 25, 2006

I'd rather go to jail than die in a nursing home, because in jail at least you'd get some pads! Mary in Chicago let us know that she visited THREE bathrooms in the Chicago jail at 26th and California, and each one had a nice big box of pads. So women in real jails get this, and women in jails masquerading as "nursing homes" and "institutions" get...what? Talk about oppression! Now see, we have nothing against individual workers, but we sure do have something against the people at the top who dictate how the system's run. You wanna know what the grassroots see? Check out this page of first-person testimony from ADAPT, collected earlier this year. It's gonna make you cry tears of rage, cause NOBODY deserves to be treated like this:
In response to some questions about the Pad Patrol, FRIDA is fully aware that in cases where nursing homes or institutions fail to provide sanitary napkins as dictated by federal law, legal recourse is necessary in case where informal negotiation is not successful. We are in full agreement that systemic change is the only way to ensure long term justice. We do, however, feel that systemic change can be achieved on multiple levels. Some folks have asked whether, in distributing sanitary napkins and tampons to nursing homes, we would enable the nursing homes to continue evading the law. Our viewpoint is as follows...

First, in conducting outreach for a pad drive (which has reached as far as Australia) we are exposing a problem in a system, a problem that many feel a personal connection to. Anyone would be shocked by the idea that someone would have to blow their whole allowance on sanitary napkins or else sit in a crust of their own blood. Add to that the fact that showers are often regulated and you must bathe on a schedule. Sometimes, by relating to something so graphically everyday, we can push awareness of the problem to a critical mass of public opinion.

Second, the larger problem beyond the lack of sanitary napkins and the suppression of periods is the entire system of nursing homes and institutions in which so many people with disabilities become trapped. While the average person will be shocked by the pad issue, they will hopefully also learn a little to care about the wider problems of institutionalization. FRIDA feels, as does ADAPT and many other groups, that we would much prefer to live in our own homes with community supports for our needs, rather than in nursing homes, institutions or group homes.
In the end, we see that a feminist issue is really a human issue.

Third, and maybe most pragmatically, the woman who is having her period in 3 days cannot wait for a lawsuit to be settled in five years. There is a final question which FRIDA needs to answer to the public, and that is whether this problem really exists, and whether there are women who are willing to speak out about this issue. There are in fact such women but at this time their identities are protected by confidentiality.

FRIDA is working to identify women who are willing to speak out. If you or someone you know is willing to testify and let people know what's really going on with women's rights in nursing homes and institutions, get in touch with Monica at (312) 253-7000.
So, what's the deal with Open Wide and the Pad Patrol? FRIDA has two new campaigns being initiated in this very busy month of September. The first, Open Wide, is a campaign to survey and increase the accessibility of hospitals in the Chicago area. That includes physical building accessibility but also covers the accessibility of diagnostic equipment and the accessibility of services provided. The second campaign, the Pad Patrol, addresses the underground problem of women in nursing homes and institutions being forced to pay for sanitary napkins out of their SSI money (they only get a $30 allowance each month). In addition, the Pad Patrol seeks to bring to light the fact that many women with disabilities are still being sterilized or put on a birth control program without their full consent, so as to lessen or eliminate their periods. They are being denied their right to choose how to manage their menstrual cycles. The Pad Patrol is initiating a drive to collect the stories of these women and to collect pads and tampons to distribute to women with disabilities in need of them. If you would like to donate some pads or tampons, please send them to FRIDA c/o Sarah Triano, 614 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago IL 60607. FRIDA can also take checks or cash to pay for these items; checks should be made out to FRIDA with a note for "pads and tampons". Smile. Thanks for listening out there.
Womyn around the world, many apologies for the lack of regular updates this year. Many thanks to FRIDA members who have been posting stuff in the name of getting info out there to womyn who need it! Everybody's incredibly busy so any time anyone has to give to FRIDA is very precious. Thank you. I want to make sure that people know that our very next FRIDA meeting is on Tuesday, October 17 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm at Access Living, 614 W. Roosevelt Road in Chicago. For newbies, our meetings are just once a month, but our committees are on a separate schedule. For accommodation needs, please contact Sharon at because a) you need the accommodation and b) she's fabulous. For general info about FRIDA, try calling Monica at (312) 253-7000 during work hours.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Local Medical Practice Discriminates Against More Deaf Patients
After Lawsuit Filed, More Patients Complain

- Today the Center for Rights of Parents with Disabilities at theColorado Cross-Disability Coalition ("CRPD"), filed an amended lawsuit inthe federal district court of Colorado against a Lakewood medical practiceon behalf of CRPD and several members. The suit alleges Cohen & Womack,M.D., P.C., doing business as Red Rocks OB-GYN, refuses to provide signlanguage interpreters for deaf patients.Annette Guerrero is a Red Rock OB-GYN patient who is deaf. Ms. Guerrero and her husband, who is also deaf, went through her entire pregnancy without knowing simple facts about the progress of her pregnancy. She never knew her weight or the size of her baby. When she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, the doctors and sta ff were unable to explain how she was to manage her condition."After we filed the first complaint, Dr. Cohen was reported to claim thelawsuit was based upon a miscommunication," said Carrie Ann Lucas, thedirector of the CRPD and lead counsel in the case. "It's certainly amiscommunication - an intentional miscommunication caused when Red Rocks OB-GYN refused to provide sign language interpreters for its patients. ""It's shocking that Red Rocks OB-GYN provides Spanish interpreters to ensureSpanish speaking clients have effective communication, but that they don'tdo the same for Deaf patients," said Jennifer Pfau, one of the plaintiffs inthe case. "It's not simply shocking, it's shameful," she said.The ADA requires health care providers to ensure effective communicationwith patients through the provision of interpreters, assistive technology,and other auxiliary aids and servicesThe plaintiffs ask the Court to order the medical practice to provide signlanguage interpreters to deaf patients to ensure that they understandmedical communications. The complaint also requests damages for theplaintiffs. The CRPD combats discrimination that affects parents with disabilities.The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is Colorado's largest state-widecross-disability organization and has several thousand members acrossColorado.A copy of the amended complaint can be found at /cohen_womack