Shira Wakschlag Fights for Disabled Rights as Hospitals Deliberate Who Lives and Who Dies during Pandemic

Shira Wakschlag ('10), Director, Legal Advocacy and Associate General Counsel of The Arc, was quoted in a number of publications regarding her work in disability rights advocacy as states, hospitals and bioethicists grapple with preparing triage plans in anticipation of pandemic shortages. A Washington Post article highlighted federal complaints Shira filed with the HHS Office for Civil Rights against states whose rationing provisions discriminate ("Who Gets a Shot at Life if Hospitals Run Short of Ventilators?" Apr. 7). "We want to make sure doctors are not making decisions on stereotypes and biases about people's lives and disabilities."

In AP News, Shira called out existing state guidelines that place disabled patients at the back of the line in the rationing of treatment while urging doctors to prioritize how much the patient can benefit from care ("Coronavirus Crisis Exacts Toll on People With Disabilities," May 6). And in interviews with The Atlantic and The Center for Public Integrity, Shira pointed to the Americans with Disabilities Act as the precedent that treatment should be considered on a case-by-case basis ("Americans with Disabilities Are Terrified. They Fear They Could Be Denied Lifesaving Treatment If They End up in the Hospital with COVID-19," Apr. 3, "State Policies May Send People with Disabilities to the Back of the Line for Ventilators," Apr. 8). "The point is, 'Are you looking at this person as a full individual and not using a bunch of external factors or value judgments about what their life is like?' You have to look at the individual and not just work off stereotypes about a broad diagnosis. … We can't just let people revert back to their own individual perception of people with disabilities."