Creative Destruction

February 15, 2007

Best Healthcare in the World?

Filed under: Current Events,Disability Issues,Health Care — Gled @ 12:48 pm

Patient ‘dumping’ probe widens

The Los Angeles city attorney’s office is investigating whether a Hollywood hospital violated multiple laws when it attempted to leave a paraplegic man on a gurney at the Midnight Mission — hours before he was left in a skid row gutter, officials said Monday.

A video, filmed by security cameras at the Midnight Mission early Thursday, shows two workers from Hollywood Presbyterian arriving by ambulance and trying to wheel the man, who is strapped down to the gurney, into the mission courtyard. They are confronted by security guards, who, according to mission officials, asked about the man’s follow-up care.


The video widens the probe into what happened to the man, who witnesses said was later left in a gutter by the driver of a van hired by the hospital. As of late Monday, he was a patient at County-USC Medical Center.

This earlier article describes that later act in more detail:

A paraplegic man wearing a soiled hospital gown and a broken colostomy bag was found crawling in a gutter in skid row in Los Angeles on Thursday after allegedly being dumped in the street by a Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center van, police said.

The incident, witnessed by more than two dozen people, was described by police as a particularly outrageous case of “homeless dumping” that has plagued th downtown area.


Witnesses shouted at the female driver of the van, “Where’s his wheelchair, where’s his walker?”

Gary Lett, an employee at Gladys Park, near where the incident occurred, said the woman driving the van didn’t reply, but proceeded to apply makeup and perfume before driving off.

“She didn’t make any attempt to help him,” Lett said. “He was in bad shape. He was incoherent.”

This is not an isolated incident.

It’s easy to point the finger at the workers and the hospital, but that won’t provide the resources and services these people need. Christian charity won’t either.

(Hat Tip)

September 12, 2006

Sixth Circuit Court Rules That Obesity Is Not Covered Under ADA

Filed under: Disability Issues,Fat and fat acceptance — Ampersand @ 11:19 pm

From the Disability Law Blog (thanks to Blue for emailing me the link!):

May 17, 2006

Sauce for the Handicapped, Sauce for the Unborn?

Filed under: Disability Issues,Feminist Issues,Reproductive Rights — Robert @ 7:52 pm

Piny of Feministe has a post up concerning the brutal murder of a New Zealand man. Keith McCormick, a disabled athlete, was relaxing at home when his able-bodied roommate Eric Smail came home drunk and apparently decided to murder him. Smail stabbed McCormick six times and then slit his throat, ending his life. The judge in the case showed Smail leniency, sentencing him to just seven to twelve years, basically because (broadly paraphrasing the logic of the decision) disabled people's lives are worth less, and caring for them is stressful.

The case itself is interesting and awful, but that's not what I'm posting about.

Here's Piny:

Because I–and Eric Neal Smail–can walk, our lives are by definition full and worthwhile. Because Keith McCormick used a wheelchair, his life was…less so. While the judge did not go so far as to say that his life was worthless, or make it out to be a contradiction in terms, he did argue that Keith McCormick had less to take away. That prejudice extended, I believe, even to Smail’s sentencing: those years spent in prison would be years taken off of a full life, and it’s unfair to expect Smail to trade them for years taken off of an inferior life.


This decision poses an enormous threat to people who need caregivers. It defines reliance on caregivers as an imposition on those who provide care–so much so that disabled people may expect violent reprisal for all that “stress.” All of that is invisible, because lives in which caregivers are mundane are invisible.

Doesn't this seem to resonate with the question of abortion? Fetuses are lives – they just aren't as important as other (adult) lives. Pro-choicers such as Ampersand will say that adult humans have cerebral cortexes, and can think – and that thus, our lives are full and worthwhile, while fetuses' aren't. Pro-choice feminists will say that fetuses require care temporarily – are parasitic on women's bodies – and this care is an imposition on their caregivers. It all seems very familiar.

The logic that the judge used in ameliorating the consequences of Smail's killing is orthogonal to the logic used by pro-choice advocates. The jump from "it's OK to kill a fetus" to "it's OK to kill a cripple" does not appear to be overwhelmingly large in magnitude. It seems like a fairly tricky endeavour to try to justify one as being obviously acceptable while the other remains a monstrous crime – particularly if you choose to defend abortion but condemn the killing of the disabled. After all, Keith McCormick was never going to get better – was never going to become a full human being in the Singerian ethical sense. But a fetus fairly quickly becomes an independent being with a full life ahead of him or her.

(BTW, Adam – we need an Abortion category, and probabily a Disability Issues category too.)

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