Who is “Disposable” in this Pandemic?

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https://www.huffpost.com/entry/coronavirus-healthcare-rationing-medical-ethics-disability_n_5e7a2b0dc5b6f5b7c54bb117

The above column in the Huffington Post caught my attention, and I’m sure it speaks to the fears of many people these days.

We with disabilities have spent many decades and sacrificed a lot on our way to legal equality. That’s why it is increasingly disquieting to hear public officials “reassure” the American public that “…it’s mostly just the elderly and those with underlying health conditions that are at risk” of having serious complications from the corona virus.

History reveals that  the more we are thought of as “separate,” the easier it is to think differently about us and hence assign a lesser value to our lives. Would it be such a stretch, in this era of dwindling  resources, to therefore conclude that since we are of less value to society, we should go to the back of the line and let those without disabilities be the first to get those hospital beds and ventilators?

Lest this sounds too alarmist, please remember that barely over 100 years ago, this country was swept  up in something called, “the Eugenics Movement.” https://www.nature.com/scitable/forums/genetics-generation/america-s-hidden-history-the-eugenics-movement-123919444/  

Also referred to as “Social Darwinism,” this movement stood for the proposition that rather than have “lesser” humans continue to wear down society and deplete its resources, society would be much better off if there were fewer of them around. That justified many decisions to institutionalize and sterilize people who were considered “feeble minded” or had other perceived defects.

I’m certainly not saying that we are on the verge of a new eugenics movement. But I do remember that these attitudes tend to sneak up gradually, particularly during times of societal stress. Let’s not start down that troubled path again.

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