Alabama’s “last resort” plan for deciding which patients get ventilators during a pandemic violates disabled persons’ federal disability rights laws, two groups argue in a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights, reports the Alabama Political Reporter.
The “emergency operations plan,” last updated in 2010, could restrict ventilator access for people suffering from a number of medical conditions, including dementia, AIDS, “severe mental retardation,” “severe burns,” and metastasized cancer.
Some people on ventilators could also be removed from them to make space for people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“In this time of crisis, we cannot devalue the lives of others in our community based on their disabilities,” said James Tucker, Director of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, in a statement. “It’s morally wrong, and it violates the law. We implore OCR to rein in and provide urgently needed guidance to the healthcare professionals who are prepared to relegate members of our community to die.
“If OCR fails to act swiftly to clearly and firmly articulate the violation of civil rights implicated by the Alabama ventilator rationing plan, there will be no way to undo the lethal outcome of the plan should it go into effect.”
The Arc of the United States, an organization serving people with intellectual and development disabilities, was also part of the complaint.