In Alabama, People With Intellectual Disabilities May Be Denied Lifesaving Care
Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, has announced that quarantining and social distancing measures will not be implemented because their caseload is not on the same magnitude as other more strongly affected states, such as California or New York.
However, the growth rate of cases in Alabama is actually faster than the growth rate in California. In California, cases have increased by 22% over the past week. In the same period of time, Alabama’s caseload has increased by 33%. The slower growth rate is a testament to the effectiveness of social distancing in flattening the curve and slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
In a macabre note, Alabama has also announced that those with intellectual disabilities might be denied access to lifesaving treatment, particularly ventilators, in the event that they are hospitalized and ill. This plan would see to be at odds with the state's pro-life credentials, something the people of the state claim is of high importance to them.
Some state plans make clear that people with cognitive issues are a lower priority for lifesaving treatment. For instance, Alabama’s plan says that “persons with severe mental retardation, advanced dementia or severe traumatic brain injury may be poor candidates for ventilator support.” Another part says that “persons with severe or profound mental retardation, moderate to severe dementia, or catastrophic neurological complications such as persistent vegetative state are unlikely candidates for ventilator support.”
Alabama's policy guidelines are not too dissimilar to the eugenics guidelines that governed Nazi-Germany. In Nazi Germany, the disabled were rounded up and murdered because they were considered 'life unworthy of life'. While Alabama is not doing this, it is troubling that the policy makers of the state feel the disabled are less worthy of being saved than the able-bodied, some may even call this a state crime in the making.