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Disability

The members of RLM have been shocked and saddened by the ruling of the Indiana Supreme Court permitting denial of food and medical care to a newborn baby with a physical defect in the so called “Infant Doe” case (April, 1982), Bloomington, Indiana. This opens the way to denying rights to people on the basis of handicap or defect and the possible denial of rights to whole races or economic groups that prejudiced judges may consider “naturally defective.”

We point out that the 1973 Rehabilitation Act forbids any discrimination against the handicapped by persons or organizations, including hospitals and health care facilities, benefiting from Federal Financial Assistance.

We urge the President of the United States to fully enforce all protections in this Act and we urge all Michigan Congressmen and Congresswomen to use their influence to support such enforcement. We are aware that the non-treatment and even starvation of babies born handicapped is occurring with increasing frequency in medical institutions, and we urge Congressional hearings to investigate such alleged discrimination to see if the law has been enforced in the past and to determine if new legislation is needed. We also urge our state legislators to study conditions in Michigan to see if legal protections and enforcements are adequate in this state. We declare our support for organizations working for the rights of those with handicaps. We support measures to make a ward of the Court any handicapped minor who appears to be singled out—by parents, hospitals, and/or any other relevant authority—for determined, life threatening neglect.

We call upon fair minded citizens of all races, politics and creeds to protest the inhumane “Infant Doe” ruling of the Indiana Supreme Court. We believe that a nation which has conquered killer diseases and sends men into space will also conquer the killer mentality that sees death as a proper answer to the problems of life.

Positive treatment—On the national scene, there is one bright and encouraging sign of re-awakening respect for life. This is embodied in widespread efforts to bring the physically and mentally challenged into the mainstream of society.

The Special Olympics have given the mentally challenged a chance to compete, to excel, to win . . . and to take a praiseworthy step toward making these people accepted and understood.

We applaud the move towards specialized classes tailored to educate the blind, the deaf, the retarded and emotionally disturbed.

We strongly second the moves made by interested groups to upgrade the care of the elderly in nursing homes and send forth a special plea not to let the whirlwind pace of our lives keep us from paying these elderly the attention and affection they deserve.

These efforts give us reason to hope that we shall all move with one heart to embrace our physically and mentally challenged brothers and sisters, for these concerns will be the sturdy paving for the road back to a re-awakening Respect for Life.