Republicans poised to take control in the U.S. House January of Representatives, the disability sector is concerned about potential catastrophic repercussions for health care, abortion rights and social services.

“We will continue to fear every election where major seats may be up for grabs that could change the political landscape for disabled folks,” Leslie Templeton was co-founder and president of the Disabled and Pro-Choice Coalition.

Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they will. undo aspects of the Inflation Reduction ActThis includes the Medicare beneficiaries’ insulin price caps. GOP leaders also recommended cutting Social Security and disability safety nets rather than strengthening them ― all while Americans are facing an ongoing pandemic that increasingly is being ignored by policymakers, noted Matthew Cortland, a senior fellow at the polling firm Data for Progress.

In the meantime, Republicans are pursuing abortion rights across the country, Templeton stated. This is a concern for many people in the disability community, Templeton stated, ahead of the midterms. Access to abortions disproportionately affects the disability communityResearch shows that disabled people are more likely to succeed in life. are at higher risk for complications in pregnancy and childbirth and a 2017 study The Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that sexual assault was almost three times more common in disabled people than it is for non-disabled.

“I think people are really passionate about [abortion access], especially within the disability community, because our lives are at risk, our well-being is our risk, and it’s criminalizing our bodies,” Templeton spoke.

This year, five states had ballot initiatives related to abortion. Each state is different. Voted for reproductive rightsDisability advocates view those battles in the context of future threats.

And with the GOP’s recent takeover of the HouseThe threat is even more real. On Monday ― before Republicans They have won You can find the House ― President Joe Biden said that unless Democrats maintained the majority, there wouldn’t be enough votes to pass legislation to codify Roe v. Wade used to protect abortion rights.

The office House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), is scheduled to be the next speaker. He did not respond when asked for comment.

In The Biden administration has done a lot to reverse the damage done by President Donald Trump in the two years that have passed since his departure. “hollowing out of federal agencies,” Amber Smock is the director of advocacy for Access Living, which provides services and advocates to disabled people.

“My concern is that two years from now, all of that work could go down the drains,” Smock said.

Democrats still control the Senate; Biden is just halfway through his term. While a major catastrophe was averted, disabled people still aren’t in the clear: A Republican Cortland stated that a majority in Congress could compromise efforts to safeguard policies that are beneficial for disabled people.

“Despite one in four American adults having a disability, we are considered disposable to far too many elected leaders and policymakers,” Cortland stated. “I think we narrowly avoided a worst-case scenario in which the worst sorts of fascist, ableist policies would have been enacted by MAGA extremists. But for me, we are still very much in danger.”

How Republicans Have Regressed Disability Rights

Cortland stated that Republican The party has changed over time in relation to disability support.

Bob Dole, a former senator from Kansas, was instrumental in the creation of this document. pushing for disability rights Dole’s policies and practices during his tenure in office, 1969-1996. Dole was the Senate majority leader. He joined with Democrats to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed bipartisanally. Republican George H.W. Bush signed into law in 1990. Bush signed the 1990 law.

George H.W. Bush, President President George H.W. Bush, RepublicanIn 1990, he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ron Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

These past years have seen a significant increase in the number of people who use them. Republican Legislators have attempted to reduce the massive disability rights law. In 2017 Republicans introduced the ADA Education and Reform Act. This law would allow civil rights advocates to advocate for disability and civil rights. said This could lead to a weakening of the ADA.

Republicans aren’t just threatening policies that protect the disability community ― they are also mocking accessibility in general, said Templeton, who has spoken about disability and abortion at the White House. In July was a good example. Kamala Harris, Vice President, provided an image description about herself during a roundtable discussion. This act was praised by the disability community. mockery from Republicans.

Pennsylvania was criticized by disability advocates last month Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz and members from the media ableist comments About Democratic candidate and Lieutenant Governor. John Fetterman’s use of closed captioning after he experienced a stroke. In September: Retired Sen. Pat Toomey (R. Pa.) attacked Fetterman because he didn’t debate his opponent due to illness, and labeled him “too sick” to serve as a senator.

Trump is made fun of Biden’s stutter. (Notably, some disabled people have also called out Democrats for making ableist remarks about Trump such as calling him “disabled”. “mentally ill” Participating in the #TrumpIsNotWell hashtag

“We are voting for our lives here.”

Leslie Templeton is co-founder of Disabled and Pro-Choice Coalition

“I think it’s a big 180,” Templeton said of Republicans’ insensitivity to the disability community. “It’s wild to me [that] the same party that helped sign [the ADA] into law are now the ones that are kind of advocating for its dismantling, or [mocking] the basic principles of accessibility.”

It is possible to chip away at disability rights Trump’s attempts to end government-funded programs, such as Medicaid, that provide disabled people with access and care, continued throughout his presidency. range of medical and long-term care services Private insurance is more expensive than public insurance. Smock pointed out that this was another reason why disabled people were concerned about the midterm elections and the possibility of Republicans gaining control of either one or both of Congress’ chambers.

“Republicans have abandoned their historical position of support for disability rights, and are now a party that wants to defund Social Security and the Social Security Administration, which provides these vital benefits for disabled Americans,” Cortland stated.

Templeton said that it feels like the GOP doesn’t see disabled people as a part of it, especially given the ways Republicans have mocked the community and labeled disabled people as lazy or a burden on society for being on Medicare or welfare. She asked politicians to make disability justice a priority in their campaigns and to be open to hearing from disabled people.

“We are voting for our lives here. If you prove yourself to be an ally, we will show up for you,” Templeton spoke.

Is there hope?

Despite the GOP’s move away from disability advocacy, there are now more progressive candidates than ever who are centering disability in their platforms, said Patrick Cokley, chief of organizing, advocacy and learning at Civic Influencers, a nonprofit that aims to increase civic power of young people.

Popular left figure Stacey Abrams ran twice for Georgia governor. She led a campaign that focused on disabled Georgians such as her promise to help them. end Georgia’s waiting list for in-home services To ensure community-based living. She Her second bid for gubernatorial election was a loss to incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year.

Other candidates who had strong disability policies were also successful: Fetterman defeated Oz In the Pennsylvania Senate Race.

Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman, who is set to become a U.S. senator, experienced a stroke earlier this year.
John Fetterman from Pennsylvania, a Democrat who was set to become a U.S. Senate candidate, had a stroke earlier in the year.

Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Smock stated that Fetterman was more likely to understand the issues surrounding health care policy in Congress. He also has a valuable perspective on the lives of Americans with disabilities who must navigate the healthcare system every day.

“That’s why lived experience matters,” Smock said. “It’s not about wearing a T-shirt, and it’s not about putting a hashtag out there. It’s about going through what makes everyday people’s lives difficult, and if we know our elected officials do that, then we’re going to trust them more that they actually might make decisions that matter to people with disabilities.”

Smock stated that the next few years will be critical in working with federal and state leaders to advocate for disability protections. He also noted that state work is a great proving ground to prove that something works nationwide.

“Build the infrastructure, advocate that federal agencies have knowledgeable staff, and initiatives that work for people with disabilities so that if the barometer swings the other way and an administration that doesn’t think disability rights are important comes in, then there will at least be a building of the infrastructure and the capacity to make it work,” She spoke.

Cokley, himself a disabled person, claimed that candidates often overlook the needs disabled people even though 1 in 4 Americans has a disability.

“The way we approach disability is always as if we’re talking about this minority, but it’s just not the case,” Cokley stated. “We need every elected official to start taking disability very seriously and stop trying to effectively disenfranchise a large number of Americans because they think that it’s a tinier group.”