Disability activists are worried that people with Down syndrome will be victims of “rationing” coronavirus treatments

By Jonathon Van Maren

With a shortage of ventilators and other medical necessities, strained global supply chains, and a worldwide pandemic placing our healthcare systems under enormous strain, many healthcare workers are bracing themselves to face impossible decisions.

Triage, a word that sounds jarring outside a wartime context, is increasingly on our lips. Stories of elderly people refusing ventilators or giving them to younger people are surfacing, and tales of Italian doctors being forced to choose who they will allocate resources to are almost too heartbreaking to read. They are enduring trauma that they will live with until they die.

Disability advocates are also fearful that our culture’s increasingly eugenic mindset will lead to discrimination against those deemed by some to be less worthy of life. According to a March 28 report by the Daily Mirror, some of the state guidelines being published in preparation for the coronavirus pandemic indicate that people “with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism could be left to die,” and disability advocates are “disturbed” by what they are seeing.


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