A Letter to The New York Times about Life with a Disability

July 30, 2009 at 4:45 am | Posted in Fighting Prejudice | Leave a comment

I sent this letter to The New York Times this morning:

I agreed for the most part with your article, “Why We Must Ration Health Care.” People are horrified by the notion of rationing when it’s done on the basis of facts and conscious choice, but accept it at the hands of profit-driven insurance companies. However, I found one aspect of the article disturbing. As a person with a disability (bipolar disorder), I was revolted to see that the author would place a lower value on the lives of disabled people based on polls of people without disabilities. Contrary to the prejudices and irrational fears of their non-disabled peers, disabled people lead full, rich lives. When considering this issue, it’s important to remember the consequences of this shameful attitude in Nazi Germany, where disabled people, including the mentally ill, were among the first victims of genocide. Any decisions about the value of life with a disability should be made by the disabled, not by people with no knowledge of the reality of how we live and thrive. I support single-payer with all my heart, but I do fear this potential consequence of mere utilitarianism.

I think we need to correct these prejudices wherever we see them. Leave a comment if you have anything to add.

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