Bryson's Blog

Living with Trisomy 13

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Harriet McBryde Johnson

Harriet McBryde Johnson, a local attorney and Civil Rights Activist on the rights of the Disabled died at the age of 50, yesterday here in Charleston. It is a very sad day for the people she represented and for many millions she hoped to bring awareness to the issues confronting the disabled. She was a champion for the ADA and equal access to healthcare. She debated Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. Singer professes to his young students (often first year medical students) that babies born with disabilities should be euthanized at birth because they will make no contribution to society. Ms. McBryde Johnson you see, was born with a congenital neuromuscular disease. Her thoughts on the Terri Schiavo case were that Terri was not at the end of her life and was not dependent on life support, no ventilators, etc. She (Terri) was indeed disabled in a persistant vegetative state was only tube fed. A husband to someone that is not disabled would not be allowed to withdraw tube feeding and hydration, so why was Mr. Schiavo's request carried out? Simply based on something Terri said years and years before? Terri had no written advance directive and she survived with loving family at her side for 15 years!

Ms. Johnson had a disdain for the pity-based tactics used by the annual MDA Telethons, which I do too! You may actually raise more funds when you show the world the wonderful accomplishments people with disabilities can make. Like those of Harriet McBryde Johnson. Most of all, the lesson we can all learn from her is that we "typical" people, need a little more humility and humanity.

Harriet was also an author and has written: "Accidents of Nature", "Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life", "Unspeakable Conversations" (!80!A2!2134BF518044/stigmanet/HarrietMcByrde/)

RIP Harriet


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