The Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Context of Health Care
Health and Human Rights in Europe (Intersentia 2012) 249-271
Posted: 1 Oct 2013
Date Written: 2012
Persons with disabilities are faced with a wide array of human rights challenges in the context of healthcare. Disability, however, also intersects with other identity markers, and the human rights challenges experienced by women, children, the elderly, ethnic minorities and migrants may be even more complex and pronounced if the person at hand also has a disability. It should also be kept in mind that persons with disabilities are not a homogenous group, and that the various sub-groups are each confronted with their own unique set of issues. Access to care for HIV positive persons, pre-natal screening for Down’s Syndrome, and conditions and practices in psychiatric wards are all examples of issues that touch upon disability, healthcare and human rights with implications for particular sub-groups of disabled people. It is, of course, impossible to deal with all the issues that may arise in a short chapter like the present one. The following discussion will therefore necessarily have to be focused on selected issues that highlight key elements of the human rights challenges that disabled people may meet in the healthcare setting. The issues dealt with will be non-discrimination and accessibility, on one hand, and mental disability and autonomy, on the other. Autonomy is discussed in the context of mental disability specifically because this group is particularly vulnerable to human rights violations. At the same time, readers are reminded that respect for disabled people’s autonomy is, like non-discrimination and accessibility, a cross-cutting theme that has a general relevance in healthcare.
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