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DisAbility and Social Networking

This week, I searched through likes, reblogs and thread postings in order to find you interesting and compelling stories for your viewing pleasure.

1.  In a surprise twist, Massachusetts voters decided to reject Question 2, which was an initiative that would have allowed terminally ill adults to receive and self-administer a prescription for a live-ending medication.

The results were extremely close, but with 51 to 49, the initiative was rejected. If Massachusetts voters had approved Question 2, then Massachusetts would have been the third state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The other two states are Oregon and Washington.

Oregon was the first state to approve a “Death with Dignity” law in 1994; Washington State approved the measure in 2008. The law does require a 15 day waiting period, so that two doctors can evalutate if the terminally ill patent in question is mentally competent, and that other doctors can provide information on end-of-life care.

You can read more about the rejection of Question 2 on a previous Disablity Rights Galaxy post and then, tell us your own opinion about the decision in the comments below. Found on Disability Rights Galaxy.

2.  UPDATE:  Judge Egan Walker had recently ruled to allow a woman with an intellectual disability to continue her pregnancy. In the last edition of “What are we talking about,”  I told you the story of the 32-year old woman who became pregnant while living in a group home.

Many were trying to get the court to force the woman to have an abortion, because they thought she had “the mind of a six year old”, along with bipolar disorder and epilepsy, they believed that her carrying a baby in that state would be extremely risky.

However, the woman in question has stated that she wants to carry the baby to term and an agreement has been reached with all parties involved in order to help her do so. So far, Judge Walker has said that the medical risks to the woman and her unborn child are not too great. I will, of course, keep you updated on this story as it continues developing. Found on Disability Scoop.

3.The Education Department has issued new rules that make it easier for borrowers who have become disabled to get their federal student loans forgiven. While the rules are not publicly known, they do recognize certain disability findings by the Social Security Administration as sufficient grounds to discharge student loans. This will allow borrowers to avoid a long and tedious double review to determine whether they are truly disabled.

The reform came after an investigation last year by ProPublica and the Chronicle of Higher Education, which found that the department’s system for evaluating whether someone had a disability or not was “erratic, duplicative and dysfunctional” and was keeping many “genuinely disabled” borrowers buried under mounds and mounds of student debt.

The new guidelines involve a single form and point of contact in the department, improving communication with applicants to better explain why they were denied and creating new roles for lawyers and family members of disabled borrowers who wished to serve as their representatives. The new reforms will go into effect on July 1st, 2013. Found on Center for Leadership in Disability Facebook page.

4.There are two new movies gaining Oscar buzz and also, respect from those who aren’t used to seeing persons with disabilities in a positive and confident light. One of those movies is called Untouchable, which tells a story about the relationship between a quadriplegic and his caregiver. It became one of the highest grossing films made this year in a language other than English.

With fame, however, comes competition. Another movie called Rust and Bone, which is about a double amputee, won the first place prize at the London film festival. While these movies are earning buzz because they are absolutely wonderful movies, many critics have also said that it gives the disability community positivity, because it shows people who are disabled, but it shows them going on about their lives and having the hope and confidence to continue their lives. Now THAT’S showbiz, folks. Found on Disability News.