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The Reality Behind The Terri Schiavo Case
From: "Barri Boone" unmaid@cruzio.com
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005

WE ARE ALL moved by the life and death issues raised in the attention to
Terri Schiavo's condition.  It raises many issues that affect hundreds of
thousands people in the United States and millions around the world.  It is
not an easy question to resolve.

I was injured at work and have been disabled for 13 years.   My partner is
disabled and we have been active on several county Commissions on
Disability, supporters of the In Home Support Services (IHSS) Program in
California, and I am an active union member in SEIU, which organizes
Homecare, Nursing Home, and Hospital Workers.  I've also had relatives and
friends who have chosen to take their own lives when they became seriously
ill with heartbreaking problems resulting from serious accidents to AIDS.

Sometimes I have agreed with the vital decisions of others and sometimes
not.  Becoming disabled is what many people consider their worst nightmare.
It is a shock to lose any human abilities that make life worth living.  The
impact on any individual, family, or close friends varies greatly.  Much
depends on the kind of support services that are available to you.  Those
with large supportive families and monetary resources have support.  Many of
us do not have that kind of support.

Many of us have worked all our lives, and when we become unable to work full
time, we experience a drastic cut in income.  Most often this comes at a
time when our expenses rise.  Our medical bills drastically rise with
increased medical insurance payments, COBRA payments, co-pays, lawyers fees
in order simply to receive Social Security Disability or Workers Comp, and
medicines and other health equipment not covered by our health plans.

Today many people with disabilities face multiple cuts in supportive
programs such as housing subsidies, the Social Security Disability program,
Workers Compensation, Medicaid and other health programs.  In California the
IHSS program, currently serving 350,000 people with disabilities and the
elderly, is on the chopping block by Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger in
order to "make California friendly to business" (eg. corporations)!  The
showdown comes this July, when the new state budget is voted on.

Hundreds of thousands of disabled are now terrified that they now have no
Plan B!  If wages for workers barely paid a minimum and not living wage are
further ruduced to $6.75 as the "Terminator" has proposed, most Homecare
Workers will be forced to either get other employment or leave the state in
order to have the minimum of both housing and food!  What is modestly called
a "cut" stands to actually decimate the entire program!

All these issues are hitting very vulnerable people at a time when other
members in our community are questioning the sanity of this country's war on
other countries from the Middle East to Africa to Haiti and Venzuela.  Our
children often see no choice but to join the military and kill private
citizens including children in coutries designated by the Bush
administration, with corporations like Haliburton and Bechtel reaping
millions.  Vets often face losing their jobs, their family medical coverage,
and their ability to support themselves when returning from war, with their
pay and services being drastically cut.

Young people face questions of their sexuality, their ability to stay
healthy, to form serious mutually supportive relationships, to make the
important decision to bring AND SUPPORT new life on our planet while being
bombarded with images from Hollywood and commercials that undermine any
rational decision making!

All these issues raise questions about how we all deal with life and death.
Terri's situation has highlighted the moral issues that many of our
families, neighbors and others who share life on this planet face daily.
It's not just about life-saving decisions for one person.   We need to
re-examine living wills, our health care system that ignores hundreds of
thousands of our population, all attempts to cut social services and
hospital workers' jobs and standards, to limit rights like the American
Disability Act, as well as our foreign policy regarding just wars, torture
and the draft.

Both Terri Schiavo and  Ashley Smith, who touched the heart of a man accused
of rape and encouraged him to turn himself in and stop a killing spree --
both these women have touched our hearts this month.  Let's look into our
hearts, join hands with others, lose our fear to think outside the box, and
choose to make all decisions that enhance life for all of the planet!

Barri Boone
Homecare Worker in SEIU
Member of American Disabled for Attendant Care Today (ADAPT)

Capitola, CA

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