Friday, February 29, 2008

Frida news links #13

for the week 02/22/08 - 02/29/08

A suicide bomber in a wheelchair killed a top policeman and wounded two others when he blew himself up in the police operations centre in the Iraqi city of Samarra on Monday, police said.

Grant funds to teach technicians how to administer mammograms to women with disabilities in Chicago.

The family of an Oregon woman fatally shot by her husband has filed a lawsuit against the man. Virginia Roberts, 51, of Gresham died of a gunshot to the head Feb. 2. Her husband, John Lyle Roberts, told relatives and Gresham police that he killed his wife out of compassion. He said his wife suffered from the incurable Lou Gehrig's disease and told him she would rather be killed than wait for it to progress. But according to court documents, two doctors who examined Roberts before her death told police she did not have that disease or any other terminal illness.

Mentally ill more likely to be crime victims than perpetrators.

Texas must act quickly to reform its facilities for the mentally impaired, family members and advocates told Texas lawmakers Friday. Advocates urged the state to beef up staffing at the facilities and ensure that residents have legal guardians who can represent them regarding their care.

Day care dilemma: Few facilities can handle disabled kids

After seven years in prison for killing his disabled daughter, Tracy, Robert Latimer will be freed on day parole this week. The appeal division of the National Parole Board this afternoon overturned a parole board decision last December that rejected Mr. Latimer's bid for parole. Following a month-long review, it concluded that Mr Latimer does not post an undue risk to reoffend.

Leave Britney alone - the young star is in a fight for her life against mental illness.
A woman is charged with killing her disabled daughter

From Canwest News Service

A woman, Astrid Hueller, 46, has been charged with killing her 17-year-old daughter, Courtney Wise.

Courtney, who had celebral palsy and used a wheelchair, was found dead in a townhouse on February 18. The cause of her death is unknown.

Her mother faces charges of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life in the sudden death of Courtney.

It has been reported that Astrid Hueller is single and the sole caregiver to several children, who are now under the care of a children's aid agency.

Full story here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

2 Teenagers accused of torturing disabled Ohio woman

from the New York Times

Published: February 27, 2008

CINCINNATI — Two teenagers with long criminal records have been charged with torturing a young woman for at least six hours inside her home in rural southwestern Ohio.

The victim, Ashley Clark, 18, was found bound, gagged and bleeding on Friday by police officers and her mother, who had called 911 when she returned from work and found the house, in Hanover Township, ransacked.

Ashley Clark told the police she had been beaten throughout the day, sometimes with a baseball bat. The police also said her hair had been cut off. She had severe bruising on her hands, arms and face and was bleeding from her face and forehead, according to the police.

The abuse included dousing Ms. Clark in the shower and then forcing her to walk barefoot through snow. Her pleas to her assailants not to strike her in the head because she had had brain surgery went unheeded, she told the police.

“It was a horrible, horrific thing,” said her mother, Sheila Clark. “People just couldn’t imagine what they did to her.”

She added, “I have so many different emotions about this situation that I don’t know what to say.”

The young woman, whom the authorities described as disabled, was treated at Fort Hamilton Hospital and is recovering at home. “She’s doing as best as she can,” Mrs. Clark said. “She just doesn’t want to talk about it so that maybe it will go away.”

article continued here.
Transplant surgeon charged with hastening patient's death

From the New York Times:

In what is believed to be the first such case in the country, a California transplant surgeon is facing three felony counts relating to charges that he tried to hasten the death of a disabled man so as to harvest his organs sooner.

By most accounts, Ruben Navarro, 25, was close to death, and doctors hoped that he might sustain other lives by donating his kidneys and liver. Dr. Hootan Roozrokh is accused of prescribing excessive drugs before he was dead for the specific purpose of hastening his death. Dr. Roozrokh has pleaded not guilty. According to his lawyer, the charges are the result of overzealous prosecutors. If convicted on all counts, Dr. Roozrokh could face eight years in prison. The case is also concerning donation advocacy groups that organ donors could be frightened away.

Mr. Navarro’s mother has filed a civil suit against Dr. Roozrokh, the donor network and other doctors in the operating room.

“He didn’t deserve to be like that, to go that way,” she said. “He died without dignity and sympathy and without respect.”

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Students with disabilities abused by teacher, according to police

Via The Herald Tribune

Herald Tribune
Staff Report
Published Friday, Feb. 22, 2008 at 8:38 a.m.

VENICE — A Venice Elementary School teacher is under arrest this morning, charged with the abuse of mentally handicapped students in her classroom.

Venice police say Diana Z. O'Neill hit students on more than one occasion, kicked a child and twisted a child's arm behind his back.

Two teacher aides in O'Neill's classroom came forward because they were concerned that the students were in danger, according to police.

One of the aides gave school officials a written log of the incidents of alleged abuse.

Police documents list four of the five students in O'Neill's classroom as victims in the case.

The school district placed O'Neill on administrative leave last week.

She turned herself in at the Venice Police Department on Thursday. She's charged with four counts of aggravated child abuse.

Police reports say that O’Neill routinely hurt four of the students in her class.

Girl, 7, punished with "body sock"

Parents of a 7-year-old girl, who has the motor skills of an 11- to 14-month-old child, say the teacher’s physical abuse caused their daughter to lose enthusiasm. She had trouble sleeping and became quick-tempered, police reports state.

Aides reported O’Neill had kicked the girl in the legs, hit her in the head with objects, pushed her to the floor and used a “weighted blanket” and a “body sock” — two therapy tools that restrict movement — to punish her.

The aides told police that O’Neill told the girl to get out of a chair on Oct. 12 and gave her “a good push,” causing the girl to trip and hit her head on the floor so hard she started to cry, although she rarely cries.

The girl went to the school nurse, who filled out an incident report based on what O’Neill told her — that the girl “tripped on chair leg — fell backwards on floor,” police records state.

The aides told police O’Neill struck the girl numerous times in December, including three times with a board and with her hand on Dec. 5; with her hand, an arm brace and twice with a binder on Dec. 12; with an arm brace on Dec. 17; and with a water bottle on Jan. 14.

When O’Neill pushed the girl on Jan. 18, she hit her head on a metal door frame and caused a lump, but O’Neill reported the girl “fell into a wall” and had “zero sign of head injury, applied ice,” police said.

A week later, O’Neill got out a blue weighted blanket and wrapped up the girl from head to toe with her hands at her side, and then let her go, one aide told police.

The girl lost her balance and hit her head as she fell to the floor, police reported. As she tried to free herself, she hit the base of a swing, and O’Neill chuckled, the aide told police.

O’Neill also used the body sock to cover the girl, pinning her arms to her sides, then gave her a little push, and the girl fell into a shelf and hit her head, the aide told police.

The girl’s parents told police that since O’Neill was removed from the classroom, the girl has been happier, more verbal, more social, a better sleeper and less aggressive when agitated.

Autistic boy allowed to hit head on wall

A boy in O’Neill’s class who is diagnosed with autism, seizure disorder and developmental delay, has the abilities of a 15- to 24-month-old child, police reports said. His mother says the boy does not know right from wrong in most cases, and has little understanding of consequences.

Aides told police that O’Neill would wheel his chair into the corner when the boy acted up at lunch, leaving him there. The boy would respond by hitting his head on the wall and O’Neill would say sarcastically, “don’t hit your head,” but allowed him to continue.

Once in the corner of the cafeteria, out of sight of most people, O’Neill would also twist his arm behind him or twist fingers until he cried out in pain, the aides said.

There is a chair the boy can be restrained in as an alternative way to control him, the aides said.

The boy has his own nurse with him at all times because of a seizure disorder, but O’Neill would not allow the nurse in the classroom because she said he is a distraction to learning, the aides said.

Girl backhanded in head, reports say

An 11-year-old girl who is in a wheelchair, who had half of her brain removed when she was 11 months old, still has a soft spot in her head where the sections of the skull do not meet. She is also prone to seizures.

O’Neill backhanded the girl in the head, fed her in a rough manner that caused the girl’s lip to bleed and degraded her in front of others, according to police reports.

An aide told police that O’Neill was feeding the girl on Jan. 28 and backhanded her in the head when the girl did not follow prompts to choose between a bite of food or a sip of her drink.

The aide said O’Neill would ram the spoon in the girl’s mouth during meals so hard that her gums bled.

Boy, 8, came home with bruises

An 8-year-old boy in O’Neill’s class has Down syndrome and a seizure disorder. His mother told police he has come home from school with bruises on the back of his thighs.

The aides told police O’Neill has hit him in the head with a variety of objects, kicked him in the buttocks, slapped him and pulled a rag from his mouth so hard that it removed a tooth.

O’Neill also used a gait belt as a leash that left bruises and scratches on the boy’s back and neck.

The boy just learned to walk and gets tired, and one day O’Neill placed a cloth belt across his chest and under his arms when he sat down on the floor to rest, the aides told police.

O’Neill used the belt to yank the boy to his feet several times, telling him, “You’re going to stand,” aides told police.

Another time, the boy bit down on a wash cloth O’Neill was using to clean out his mouth and she yanked it out so hard that a bottom tooth went flying over her right shoulder, the aides told police.

Friday, February 22, 2008

FRIDA news links #12

02/15/08 - 02/22/08

Patricia E Bauer has a post about Paul Longmore's critique of the column Roy Peter Clark wrote about the media coverage of the recent Florida wheelchair dumping case. Clark had argued that the media did not not adequately analyze the case, leaving readers to conclude that "the disabled are too vulnerable to be criticized." But according to Longmore, Clark trivializes violence against people with disabilities: "It is utterly irrelevant that the disabled man who was assaulted by this officer was not more seriously injured and was thus able to appear on the Today show. Nor is it pertinent that he comes across as unsympathetic." Moreover, Longmore argues, it is "objectionable that Clark suggests that the news media should have questioned the ability of this man and others who are quadriplegic to drive safely." More here.

A biology professor at UNC at Chapel Hill sparked controversy last when he said in class that mothers of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome are morally obligated to have an abortion.
This is a letter that The National Down syndrome Society posted to the professor.

A legally blind woman has sued several fast food restaurants for ridiculing her when she asked for help reading their menus, but a federal judge threw out the suit on the grounds that "ADA laws don't regulate 'rudeness or insensitivity' of workers." Last week, however, an appeals court overturned that ruling and now the suit—" believed to be the first of its kind—could go before a jury this year."

A woman employed as a caretaker for a 93 year old blind woman has been arrested after detectives allege she stole close to $500,000 from her employer.

CBS has called last week's Big Brother slur against children with autism "offensive." Advocacy group Autism United had called on the network to condemn the reality show after a contestant, named Adam, referred to children with special needs as "retards." CBS says the reason the remark was left in the broadcast was because Adam's housemate, Sheila, reacted immediately with "shock and condemnation" on screen. During the broadcast, Jasinski defended himself by pointing to his alleged work with the United Autism Foundation, saying, "I can call them whatever I want, OK? I bust my ass to help these special-needs children!"

The psychiatric case files of two female suicide bombers who killed nearly 100 people in Baghdad this month do not contain information indicating they had Down syndrome.

Nearly 2,,000 Georgians (Atlanta) with disabilities gathered Thursday for the 10th annual Disability Day.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Human Rights Watch on Women and Girls with Disabilities

To see the full page, go to: The page includes the following list:
  • Disabled women's sexual and reproductive rights are grossly abused. They experience forced sterilization; forced abortion due to discriminatory attitudes about their parenting abilities; and denial of information about reproductive health and contraceptives. When seeking reproductive health care, disabled women often face abusive treatment at the hands of physicians who do not understand their particular circumstances. A study in the U.S. showed that women with disabilities were significantly less likely to receive pelvic exams than non-disabled women.
  • Disabled women also face limitations on their rights to marry and found a family, and often lose of custody of their children. In some countries, it is almost impossible for disabled women to adopt children.
  • Disabled women face high rates of violence, both at the hands of family members and of personal assistants. Their dependence on their caregivers makes it even more difficult for them to pursue a remedy than for non-disabled women. Even where shelters are available for survivors of domestic violence, they are rarely accessible for disabled women. Research indicates that the violence faced by disabled women may be more chronic and severe, and takes some unique forms, such as withholding of essential care and medication. It seems also to be more prevalent: surveys conducted in Europe, North America, and Australia have shown that over half of disabled women have experienced physical abuse, compared to one-third of non-disabled women. In the United States, children with disabilities are almost twice as likely to experience sexual abuse as non-disabled children.
  • The labor market does not adequately accommodate disabled women, nor are there sufficient laws to prevent and punish harassment – either sexual harassment or harassment on the basis of disability. According the United Nations, only one quarter of women with disabilities worldwide is in the workforce. They are twice as unlikely to find work as disabled men. In the United States, disabled men earned 55 percent more than disabled women in 1994-95.
  • There are reports of high rates physical and sexual abuse against disabled women and girls living in institutions for the disabled. In some countries, disabled women living in institutions are abused at twice the rate as those living in the community.
  • In Africa, where the myth that having sex with a virgin can cure a person of HIV/AIDS, women and girls with disabilities are targeted for rape because they are presumed to be asexual and thus virgins.
  • The combination of discrimination on the basis of gender and disability results in low literacy rates for women and girls with disabilities and low rates of school attendance. UNESCO estimates that the overall literacy rate for persons with disabilities worldwide is 3 percent, and for disabled women and girls it is 1 percent. One source says that less than 2 percent of children with disabilities are attending any form of schools, but no gender breakdown of that number is available. In the U.S., disabled women are five times more likely than non-disabled women to have fewer than eight years of schooling. Particularly for girls who do not attend school, information on reproductive health is less available, leading to the unsurprising result in the U.S. that young women with disabilities are significantly more likely to be mothers three to five years after leaving school than non-disabled young women. Studies in the U.S. also show that disabled students experience higher rates of sexual harassment in schools, and disabled girls face higher rates than disabled boys.
  • Disability benefits are lower for disabled women than for disabled men in some countries, such as Canada. These benefits are tied to work and earning histories, thus penalizing women who face discrimination in the labor sector and lower wages than men.

This list provides, in a nutshell, many of the issues that concern members of FRIDA and the FRIDA network.

The United States Department of State also compiles an annual report on human rights and you can check it out by country at Each report includes a category on the rights of women and people with disabilities.

RIP Javona

Javona Peters, 16, who incurred a serious brain injury as a result of a surgical procedure last October at Montefiore Medical Centers in New York City, has died. She had been a patient at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, where she was undergoing testing after being diagnosed in a persistent vegetative state.

Readers of this blog might recall that Javona's mother, Janet Joseph, was seeking court permission to remove her feeding tube. She was opposed in her wish by Javona's father, Leonard Peters of Mount Vernon.

According to Wesley Smith, Javona's feeding tube was not removed. The cause of her death is unknown.

Javona, prior to her surgery, has been described as an outgoing, athletic, active teenager who wanted to be a nurse. She was an honor student, a hospital volunteer, and a tutor to young children.

Our sympathies to Javona's family.

Rest in peace, Javona.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feminist-Disability Links #11

It's reported in the Times that the head of a Baghdad psychiatric hospital has been accused of supplying al-Qaida in Iraq with mentally impaired patients to carry out suicide attacks.

A Gresham (Oregon) man will now face a murder charge after it is discovered his wife, whom he says he killed out of empathy, never had a fatal disease.

Seriously disabled children should be considered non-persons and would be better off having been aborted, according to a Peer speaking in the House of Lords Tuesday. Attempting to couch her assertion in terms of children's rights, Molly Baroness Meacher told the Lords that children born with severe disabilities are not viable people. The full story is available here.

The case against a man charged with the sexual abuse of a blind and partially paralyzed nursing home resident now rests with an Erie County grand jury.

A woman and her daughter charged with suspected neglect and death of 21-year-old family member with mental and physical disabilities will appear in court on Feb. 14. Full story here.

The trial of a Parksville man accused of sexual abusing an intellectually impaired girl when she was 15, began on February 4.

Elder abuse cases are on the rise.

A Waterford Drive woman and her boyfriend forced her 18-year-old intellectually impaired daughter to sit outside in the frigid cold, according to police.

Australian euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke has been accused of advising a depressed woman who took her own life about smuggling lethal drugs from Mexico.
The Sunday Star-Times reported that the 68-year-old woman, who was not terminally ill, killed herself in 2006 with drugs she smuggled home from Mexico after seeking advice from Dr Nitschke.

Former delegate, Mitch Van Yahres, has died. He was 81, and has been defined as an advocate for social justice. Thanks to his efforts, in 2001 Virginia became the first state to express its profound regret for the practice of involuntary sterilization of thousands of poor people and mentally impaird patients. California and other states have followed suit with official apologies. More here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

FRIDA Call for Feminist Voice in Lauren Richardson Case

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2008

For Information Contact:
Sharon Lamp (847) 803-3258; (847) 894-4907 cell
Amber Smock: Ambity(a)

FRIDA Calls for Feminist Voice on Lauren Richardson Case

(Chicago) Feminist Response In Disability Activism (FRIDA) today calls for disability-positive advocacy by feminists and advocates on the case of Lauren Marie Richardson, 23, of Delaware. The media has presented her battle as primarily about her right to life. However we feel this angle obscures the more fundamental struggle against deeply entrenched beliefs about women parenting with a disability. The deeper message in the fight to end her life is: “Better off dead than be a mom like THAT.” We object vehemently to this message.

Richardson suffered a severe brain injury after a heroin overdose in August 2006. Pregnant at the time, she was placed on life support and gave birth to a baby girl the following February. Shortly thereafter, her mother, Edith Powers, was awarded guardianship of Richardson for the stated purpose of removing her feeding tube and ending her life. Richardson has never been allowed to have contact with her daughter. Her only “life support” at this time is a feeding tube.

Randy Richardson, Lauren’s father, is contesting Powers’ decision to remove the feeding tube. In addition, he has appealed that he be allowed to care for Lauren at home, and that Lauren be united with her daughter so that she will know her mother. FRIDA fully supports Randy Richardson’s efforts. He has set up a site about his daughter at

FRIDA emphasizes that we are not aligned with pro-life groups. Our purpose in this statement is to expose the ableism and sexism at work in this case. A woman is not diminished in her capacity to love her child simply because she is disabled. Traditionally, “good” mothers have been narrowly defined as non-disabled, white, middle class, heterosexual women. Another common misconception is that the child of a person with a disability will be adversely affected by parental disability.

We appeal to feminists and activists to join FRIDA in supporting Randy Richardson’s efforts to care for Lauren and to unite her with her baby, and to publicly denounce the ableism and sexism inherent in this case.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Lauren Richardson

Below is a link to a website that Randy Richardson has created for his daughter, Lauren Richardson, 23, who suffered an anoxic brain injury in August 2006. As reported in an earlier post, Lauren's mother, Edith Towers, was granted guardianship of Lauren last week and is seeking to have her feeding tube removed. Randy Richardson has appealed the ruling, and any action is on hold until the Delaware court has reviewed his appeal.

What has been underreported in the media is that Lauren, who was pregnant at the time of the accident, gave birth to a baby girl in February 2007. The child is presently living with Edith Towers. Lauren has not been allowed to see her baby.

If you would like to have a comment added at the website, email it to Randy Richardson at

For further information about Lauren and her father's campaign, and for suggestions on how you can help, here is a link to the Life for Lauren website.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Female Suicide Bombers with Down Syndrome

Bombers Had Down Syndrome, Official Says
Dozens Dead In Bomb Attacks In Baghdad
POSTED: 11:48 am CST February 1, 2008
UPDATED: 11:53 am CST February 1, 2008

BAGHDAD -- Remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally retarded women detonated in a coordinated attack on Baghdad pet bazaars Friday, Iraqi officials said, killing at least 73 people in the deadliest day since the U.S. sent 30,000 extra troops to the capital last spring.

The chief Iraqi military spokesman in Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, claimed the female bombers had Down syndrome and that the explosives were detonated by remote control, indicating they may not having been willing attackers in what could be a new method by suspected Sunni insurgents to subvert stepped up security measures.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said the bombings showed that a resilient al-Qaida has "found a different, deadly way" to try to destabilize Iraq.

"There is nothing they won't do if they think it will work in creating carnage and the political fallout that comes from that," he told The Associated Press in an interview at the State Department.

The first attack Friday occurred at about 10:20 a.m. in the central al-Ghazl market. The weekly bazaar has been bombed several times since the war started but recently had re-emerged as a popular place to shop and stroll as Baghdad security improved and a Friday ban on driving was lifted.

Four police and hospital officials said at least 46 people were killed and more than 100 wounded.

Firefighters scooped up debris scattered among pools of blood, clothing and pigeon carcasses.

About 20 minutes later, a second female suicide bomber struck a bird market in a predominantly Shiite area in southeastern Baghdad. That blast killed as many as 27 people and wounded 67, according to police and hospital officials.

One witness who declined to be identified told AP Television News that the woman said she had birds to sell, then blew herself up as people gathered around to inspect them.

For more, see: