Monday, February 12, 2007

Feminist Response in Disability Activism Hosts Speakout to Demand
The American Medical Association Engage on Disability Ethics

(Chicago) On February 7, Feminist Response in Disability Activism (FRIDA) hosted a speakout with leading Chicago-area disability rights groups on FRIDA’s campaign to meet with the American Medical Association (AMA) regarding the ethical issues raised by the case of Ashley X. The AMA has refused to meet with FRIDA and their allies for over a month. The conference was held at Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago.

Ashley X is a nine-year-old girl with a profound cognitive disability. At the first signs of puberty when she was six, her parents approved a “treatment” which included a hysterectomy, removal of breast buds and massive infusions of estrogen, all with the effect of maintaining Ashley’s childlike size and appearance for the rest of her life. Disability rights advocates worldwide have since united in opposition to the ethics of the case.

Speakers included Monica Heffner, a FRIDA member; Marca Bristo, President of Access Living; Rahnee Patrick, Chicago ADAPT; Donna Harnett, mother of a son with profound disabilities; Diane Coleman, co-founder of Not Dead Yet; Larry Biondi, Progress Center for Independent Living; and Mary Kay Rizzolo, Associate Director of the Institute on Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Rizzolo expressed the fundamental outrage of those present when she said, “Disability is not undignified. Nor is reproductive health offensive. There is no indignity in being a sexually mature adult with significant functional limitations.”

“If any other recognized minority group requested a meeting to discuss disparities in medical treatment, it is hard to imagine that the AMA would refuse. Disability groups deserve the same respect and consideration that would be given to other minority groups,” stated Coleman.

Amber Smock of FRIDA said, “Our efforts to meet with the AMA will continue because this is literally a life-and-death issue for people with disabilities. As a community, we must hold medical professional organizations and ethics committees accountable for their violations of our bodies.”