☀️ ASAN May Update ☀️

ASAN May Newsletter

Dear friend,

This has been a difficult month. Our community’s resilience was on full display as we continue to fight to #StopTheShock, access health care, stay safe from the pandemic, and exercise our civil rights.

The Supreme Court’s recent actions can and will dramatically curtail the human rights of people with disabilities. Towards the beginning of the month, we learned that the Supreme Court will likely be overturning Roe v. Wade. We strongly oppose this, as it is very important for people with disabilities to be able to make choices about our own bodies. Some people with disabilities can face extra harm if we can’t make choices about whether to stay pregnant. Decisions like these affect our abilities to make decisions about our own lives and disproportionately impact people with disabilities, people of color, people from low-income backgrounds, and LGBTQ+ people. This case also has dangerous implications for other rights connected to bodily autonomy.

ASAN has advocated for reproductive justice alongside our partners such as with our amicus brief in this Supreme Court case and our four-paper series on disability and reproductive rights created with the National Partnership for Women & Families. ASAN staff attended rallies both virtually and in person at the Supreme Court. We will continue to advocate until all of our community can access reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortions.

The Supreme Court also had a recent ruling related to the Rehabilitation Act. The Rehabilitation Act protects people with disabilities from discrimination by the federal government and agencies that use federal funds. This ruling will make it more difficult for disabled people to sue for our rights under the Rehabilitation Act. Along with our coalition partners, we are strategizing on what Rehabilitation Act litigation looks like after this change. ASAN is extremely concerned about what recent and future Supreme Court decisions will mean for our communities, and we will fight to ensure our human rights are protected!

For decades, the disability community has put in the work to close the Judge Rotenberg Center. While much of our focus has been on the national level, there is now critical state-level legislation that would affect the Judge Rotenberg Center. The New York state legislature is introducing a bill that would stop the state from sending any more people to the JRC; most of the JRC’s residents come from New York. ASAN endorses Andre’s Law, named in honor of Andre McCollins, a survivor of contingent electric shock and other forms of aversive conditioning. We are working with New York state legislators to get the word out about this critical bill. New York state residents can learn how to contact your elected officials here, and non-New York state residents can share this info.

We also had the chance to take on some of the JRC’s allies. ABAI is the Association for Behavioral Analysis International, the governing body of ABA practitioners. ABAI has continued to endorse the Judge Rotenberg Center, and allows them to sponsor and present at their conferences. One of the JRC’s presentations at this year’s conference specifically focuses on the merits and ethics of the electric shock device. Until ABAI renounces the reprehensible torture of disabled students at the Judge Rotenberg Center, removes the JRC as a sponsor, vendor, and presenter, and bars them from future conferences, we must not let them rest. This year, the ABAI conference was held in Boston from Thursday, May 26 through Monday, May 30th, and we took over their conference hashtags, #ABAIBoston #ABAI2022, with the truth about the JRC and ABA. While ABAI has not renounced the JRC and removed them as a sponsor, vendor, and presenter, we let them know that their active endorsement of torture will not go unnoticed. Check out our updated fact sheet for more information about the Judge Rotenberg Center.

We released a series of new animated videos explaining the federal budget process in plain language! It’s important for self-advocates to understand how the federal budget gets made—so we can advocate for a budget that includes money for programs that help us! But the federal budget process is complicated and confusing, even to people who have worked in the government for a long time. We hope you’ll use these videos in your advocacy, and share them with people who might find them helpful!

ASAN is hiring for a Programs Associate position. Consider becoming a part of the team and helping us to put together programs like ACI! For more information and a breakdown of responsibilities, see the posting here. We strongly encourage autistic people of color, AAC users, and members of the LGBTQ community to apply.

We held a webinar this month on the CDC’s new Community Levels tool and how we can keep each other safe. You can watch the webinar here. We also released a new plain language toolkit, “​​What do the CDC’s new COVID-19 Community Levels mean for me?” that explains COVID-19 community levels, which are based more on hospital availability than on current levels of COVID-19.

We are grieving with our communities after several mass shootings across the United States this month, including a targeted anti-Black attack in Buffalo, New York and a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, including those who will develop disabilities as a result of these attacks. Gun violence and anti-Black violence are public health crises in the United States. As always, we urge advocates and policymakers to see through attempts to scapegoat people with disabilities and focus on real solutions.

We hope you are finding ways to care for yourselves, your loved ones and your communities in this difficult time. We will continue to fight for a world in which our rights to safety and bodily autonomy are honored.


The Team at ASAN

We’re excited to update you about the details of our policy work this month! Here are some of the highlights:

  • We joined coalition partners to request a meeting with Secretary Walsh of the Department of Labor to discuss long COVID as a disability
  • We signed on to a letter to Census Bureau Director Santos urging improvements to the Population Estimates process, noting its particular importance in ensuring adequate federal funding for populations that were undercounted in the 2020 Census
  • We signed on to a letter asking Congressional leadership to restore funding for COVID testing, treatment and vaccines for the uninsured
  • We urged Senators to vote in favor of S. 4132, The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022
  • We signed onto a letter with over 200+ aging, disability, workforce advocates & allies demanding Congress invest in a robust HCBS system so people can age at home with independence & dignity, and workers can receive fair pay for the vital work they do.

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