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December 2014
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Dear friends,
 

It’s been a big year at ASAN. This year, we ended the Combating Autism Act and began fighting for self-advocate inclusion in implementing the new Autism CARES legislation. We made sure that workers with disabilities working on federal contracts made the same wages as nondisabled workers. We helped get justice for disabled victims of violence from family members. On these issues and countless others, we are working to protect our community against those who seek to deprive us of our rights. And after many years of struggle, we are seeing tangible results.
 

Just last Monday, the President signed the ABLE Act, which will let people with disabilities save up for college, assistive technology, housing and other major expenses while keeping their Medicaid coverage.
 

But we still have a long way to go. Autistic people and people with other disabilities still lack many of the basic legal protections that we need to live independent, full lives – or even to live at all.
 

Just this month, a Wisconsin court announced that people with disabilities don’t have a constitutional right to make our own decisions about whether to live or die. That decision denied justice to a developmentally disabled teenager who died of treatable pneumonia nearly eight years ago, after doctors at the state-run University of Wisconsin Hospital Center took him off of antibiotics. Not because treatment wasn’t working or because he wasn’t expected to recover, but because one of the hospital doctors had convinced his parents that his life wasn’t worth saving. Nobody asked him what he wanted. There was no oversight by either the hospital ethics board or the court system. Just a unilateral decision that the child should die.
 

Before the court issued its decision, ASAN and eleven other disability rights organizations sent the court a brief explaining how important it was to protect people with disabilities from this kind of discrimination. We are committed to making sure that people with developmental disabilities are recognized as lives worth living.
 

The fight isn’t over. This January, we’ll be sending in yet another brief to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, asking it to review the case. Even after that, we’ll still be fighting anywhere we can: courts, state legislatures, the media, anywhere where disabled lives are under threat. We’re in this to win – because the stakes are too high not to.

 

But we need your help in order for that to happen. Next year we’ll be even busier than last. We’ll be continuing our fight to make sure that autistic people are able to make their own decisions, live in the community, earn the same wages as everyone else, and get the health care we need.
 

If you want to support the work we do, please take the time to send a donation our way. As the only advocacy organization that’s run by and for autistic people, our voice is vital, but there is still so much more that we could do. With your help, we can grow our advocacy arm so that we can do even more and respond to those who seek a world without us.

 

Donate now, and help us make sure that whenever our voice is needed, we’ll be there leading the conversation.


Regards,
Samantha Crane
Director of Public Policy
Autistic Self Advocacy Network



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