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Disabled People Have the Right to Parenthood:

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-28
Posted in

CW: Ableism

Earlier this week, I read a post on Facebook about parenthood. Shea Meagle is a 27-year-old who lives with SMA. She was left upset after visiting The Genetics & IVF Institute in Fairfax, Virginia.

Dr. Laurence Udoff met with Shea and her mother. Udoff had never met a patient with SMA before. He knew very little about the disease. Meagle prepared a document outlining her wishes and read it aloud.

After a brief discussion Udoff told Meagle that the clinic couldn’t help her due to her disability. In addition, he said he would be unable to oversee her treatment. Finally, he told Meagle that the anesthesiologist would reject her request for egg removal, and she probably wouldn’t survive the procedure.

SMA is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder that causes increasing proximal muscle weakening due to spinal cord loss of alpha motor neurons. It is characterized by widespread muscular atrophy and weakness. The muscles of the proximal limbs are the most impacted.

The rate of maternal and fetal problems in mothers with SMA is not higher than in the general population. Prematurity and cesarean sections are more common among the pregnancies due to decreased muscle and ventilatory function. Additionally, no harmful impact on the development of the fetus could be found according to a study done by The Journal of Neurology.

At the end of the appointment Udoff told Meagle that he was mearly providing her with facts. He then implied that it would be unethical for someone with SMA to raise a child. Disabled people should be able to make their own decisions about parenthood.

Pregnancy is common among disabled people in the U.S. Willie Horner-Johnson, an Oregon Health and Science University professor of public health, co-authored a new study on health disparities among pregnant disabled people. Horner-Johnson and her colleagues found that more than 20% of all individuals who give birth in the United States identify as having a disability.

As a woman with Cerebral Palsy, I’ve often considered having children later in life. I do wonder if society would consider me unfit for motherhood because of my Cerebral Palsy. No woman is inherently unfit to be a mother simply because she has a disability. Interestingly, no medical professional has ever asked me about pregnancy or if I want to have children.

My biggest fear is that my child would resent having a disabled mother. I wouldn’t be able to go down slides with them or pick them up if they fell. Caring for a child entails much more than just meeting their physical needs. I would do my best to raise my child to be a happy, well-adjusted, and caring citizen.

Cerebral Palsy does not preclude me from having a child if I so desire. I may have to come up with creative parenting solutions, which is fine with me. There are many different available for parents with disabilities. They include custom strollers and lower cribs.

I hope that if I ever have a child, they would grow up knowing that their mother loves them and does her best for them. Regardless of what society thinks, all that would matter to me is that my child knows that they are loved unconditionally.


Arrache, Stephanie. “Wheelchair Accessible Tips and Tricks I Learned as a First-Time Parent.” New Mobility, United Spinal Association, 1 Dec. 2016,

Donnelly-DeRoven, Clarissa. “1 In 5 Births Nationwide Are to People with Disabilities, But These Patients Don’t Always Get the Care They Need.” North Carolina Health News, North Carolina Press Association, 25 Oct. 2022,

Abati, Elena, and Stefania Corti. ‘Pregnancy Outcomes in Women with Spinal Muscular Atrophy: A Review’. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, vol. 388, Elsevier, May 2018, pp. 50–60, https://doi.org10.1016/j.jns.2018.03.001.

D’Amico, Adele et al. “Spinal muscular atrophy.” Orphanet journal of rare diseases vol. 6 71. 2 Nov. 2011, doi:10.1186/1750-1172-6-71

Meagle, Shea. Medical Discrimination Due To Disability Facebook, 22 Jan 2023, 7:07 PM. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023

Rudnik-Schöneborn, S et al. “Pregnancy and spinal muscular atrophy.” Journal of neurology vol. 239,1 (1992): 26-30. doi:10.1007/BF00839207


Disabled Massachusetts Residents Can’t Find Housing:

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-27
Posted in

After being hospitalized John Simmons arrived at a nursing home in Everett MA. He expected his stay to be relatively short. Unfortunately, three years later, he is still living there.

Simmons uses a wheelchair and requires supplemental oxygen to breathe. He is capable of living independently. However, like many disabled people in Massachusetts, he is lives in a nursing facility due to a lack of affordable housing options.

Simmons, 74, is a plaintiff in a federal class action complaint filed in Boston in October, alleging that the state of Massachusetts is allowing thousands of people with disabilities to languish and often deteriorate in nursing homes when they could live independently. The lawsuit seeks to force the state to extend existing programs and establish new ones to assist disabled people in transitioning out of nursing homes.

Simmons is grateful that he is able to receive the medical care he needs. However, he misses simple daily pleasures such as grocery shopping, going for walks, and doing laundry. He hasn’t seen a full moon in years.

According to a 2015 article published by NPR, those with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty than their non-disabled counterparts. Accessible affordable housing is hard to find. Unsurprisingly, disabled people account for 38.6% of sheltered homeless people in America, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

Simmons says he decided to join the lawsuit because he witnessed the toll that living in a nursing facility during pandemic took on those who couldn’t go . After being released from the hospital he felt he had nowhere else to go. Due to his disability he was unable to return to his fourth floor apartment in Boston. The building has no elevator and Simmons couldn’t climb stairs anymore. He eventually lost his housing voucher as well.

In 2021, about half of all people with disabilities who rent struggled to pay their rent. A one-bedroom apartment in the United States costs around one and a half times the monthly Supplemental Security Income amount. A person on SSI would have to spend roughly twice their allotment in the Boston region to afford a one-bedroom rental.

It is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and of The Olmstead Decision to keep disabled people in such settings. The Supreme Court issued the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. decision in June 1999, requiring all states to prohibit unnecessary segregation of disabled individuals and to ensure that they receive services in the most integrated setting possible.

Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, two disabled women living in Georgia nursing homes, were involved in this case. Curtis and Wilson requested permission from state officials to live in the community in their own homes.

When the state rejected their request, Susan Jamieson of Atlanta Legal Aid file a lawsuit on their behalf. The Supreme Court heard the case after several appeals. Services for people with disabilities must be offered “in the most integrated setting possible,” according to the Supreme Court ruling.

More disabled people across the nation are living in their communities because of the decision. However, millions of people including Simmons are still living in nursing facilities or other institutional settings.

Living in these settings is much more expensive Living at home saves the state of Massachusetts thousands of dollars a year. Nursing home care costs an average of $7,756 per month for a semi-private room. The average monthly cost for a private room is $8,821. This adds up to $93,072 and $105,852 a year, respectively.

Nobody should be forced to live in poverty. Many disabled Americans like Davis are also staying in homeless shelters. Disability benefits must provide a livable income for those who need them in America. We must work together to ensure that no Americans with disabilities are homeless.


Fessler, Pam. “Why Disability and Poverty Still Go Hand in Hand 25 Years After Landmark Law.” NPR, NPR, 23 July 2015,

“Homelessness in America: Overview of Data and Causes.” The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 2018,

Shapiro, Joseph. “Lois Curtis, Who Won a Landmark Civil Rights Case for People with Disabilities, Died.” NPR, NPR, 5 Nov. 2022,

Smith, Meghan. “A Lawsuit Could Force the State to Help Thousands of People with Disabilities Find Housing.” WBGH, PBS, 26 Jan. 2023,


The Trouble with Why I Hope To Die At 75:

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-26
Posted in

CW: Ageism, & Ableism:

Yesterday I read an article written in October 2014 by Ezekiel J. Emanuel after seeing it on my Twitter feed. Emanuel is an oncologist and a former member of President Biden’s COVID-19 transition team.

He was the founding chair of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) department of bioethics, a position he maintained until August 2011. In addition, he was a special adviser on health policy to the head of the Office of Management and Budget and the National Economic Council until January 2011.

In the article, he discusses why he wishes to die at 75. As someone with Cerebral Palsy, I found Emanuel’s perspective difficult to understand. Emanuel argues that aging renders most people disabled or at least frail, and in turn changes how people view us.

Cerebral Palsy is a lifelong disability. It will never go away no matter how long I live. A disability or illness doesn’t mean that somebody can’t enjoy life. I have traveled to Cape Cod, Maine, Florida, and Washington, D.C., all while living with CP. I hope to travel more in the future. Eventually, I want to take a trip to my birthplace of, Kolkata, India as well.

He also argues that age-related disabilities prevent people from contributing to society and working. I know many disabled people who are writers, public speakers, volunteers, entrepreneurs, wives, husbands, and parents. People contribute to society in many different ways, not just employment.

Self-worth is not tied to employment. I have received disability benefits for the past seven years and have often been told I am lucky. Society tends to see people who can’t work as lazy. We all have something to offer the world regardless of age or ability.

His perspective on functional limitations, however, was more disappointing to me than anything else. He talks about how people take up hobbies such as birdwatching, listening to books, and pottery when their physical abilities begin to decline.

Cerebral Palsy limits my physical abilities and I’ve always enjoyed more intellectual hobbies such as reading and writing. E-books make reading more accessible to me. I have used a program called Bookshare since I was in elementary school. I also enjoy watching movies, following my favorite sports teams, and researching different topics online.

Everybody deserves to live a meaningful life regardless of age, or disability. Life doesn’t have to stop just because you are older or have a disability. People of all ages can attend school, work, and participate in community activities if they have the proper support. Nobody should be isolated, and separated from their community.


Emanuel, Ezekiel J. “Why I Hope to Die at 75.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 15 Oct. 2014,

Goodnow, Natalie. “Biden’s Dangerous Covid Taskforce Pick Says Living Too Long Is a Loss.” The Hill, Nexstar Media Group, 16 Nov. 2020,

“Zeke Emanuel.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 7 Nov. 2021,


Disabled Oklahomans Need Help:

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-25
Posted in

As more families move off the waitlist, the Oklahoma Human Services Developmental Disability Services division (DDS) is hosting the second round of regional meetings across the state.

Last year at the Meadows Center for Opportunity, Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill. Stitt signed House Bill 4466, which provides $32.5 million to reduce the 13-year wait for developmental disability services. The $32.5 million will go toward supporting individuals on the waitlist and increasing care provider rates by 25%. On October 1, the provider wait time increase became effective.

Waivers under Section 1915(c) allow states to offer HCBS as an alternative to institutional care in nursing homes, intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities, and hospitals. Case management, homemaker/home health aide, personal care, adult day programs, habilitation, and respite care services are all included as HCBS services in the Act. To prevent institutionalization, the Secretary may also authorize additional services.

States can use HCBS waivers to provide specialized services to specific populations, such as the elderly, people with physical or developmental disabilities, and people with particular diseases like HIV/AIDS or traumatic brain injuries. States may establish restrictions on waiver program enrollment and average costs per person to ensure they do not exceed the waiver’s cost-neutrality requirement.

HCBS waivers are generally approved for three years. Individuals who have Medicaid and Medicare may have their waivers approved for five years. This also grants them a five-year renewal period.

Monique Pendleton’s son Josiah has been on the waiting list since 2006. He is 19 years old and wants to become a minister. The announcement gave Pendleton hope. She hopes to use funding from Josiah’s waiver for his educational needs, including a direct support professional to help him with reading and writing.

Medicaid must be expanded to serve all Americans in need. Millions of people’s lives may be nearly unbearable without Medicaid. Care cannot wait, so it needs to be expanded. Medicaid coverage can mean the difference between life and death. Medicaid’s services are necessary for millions of Americans, including myself.


Douglas, Kaylee. “More Meetings Held for Families Coming off of 13-Year Waitlist for Disability Services.” KFOR, Nexstar Media Group, Inc., 24 Jan. 2023,

“Gov. Stitt Holds Ceremonial Signing of Bill Aiming to End Long DDS Waitlist in Oklahoma.” KOKH, Sinclair Broadcast Group , 11 Oct. 2022,

Thomas, Kilee. “DHS Unveils Plan to End 13-Year Waitlist for Developmental Disabilities Services.” KOCO, Hearst Television, 21 July 2022,

“Waivers.” Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, U.S. Federal Government , 8 Dec. 2020,


Ed Roberts’s Legacy Continues Impacting the Lives of Disabled Americans:

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-24
Posted in

Yesterday would have been Ed Roberts’s 84th birthday. Ed Roberts helped launch the independent living movement. Millions of lives have been impacted by his work, including mine.

Roberts went down a path that changed the course of history after contracting polio at age 14. The virus left him paralyzed from the neck down and reliant on a ventilator.

Poliomyelitis, usually known as polio, is an infection caused by a virus (poliovirus). Polio primarily affects children under age 5. It can cause muscle weakness, lifelong disability, and even death. Clinical manifestations range from mild respiratory illness, gastroenteritis, and malaise to severe paralysis. These are classified as inapparent infection with no symptoms, moderate disease (abortive poliomyelitis), aseptic meningitis (nonparalytic poliomyelitis), and paralytic poliomyelitis.

Although Roberts excelled in his high school academics, he was denied graduation because he had not completed his physical education or driver’s education requirements. Roberts prevailed, as he would throughout his life. He then chose to study public policy at UC Berkeley. Despite being told that his education would be futile, he became the first student with severe disabilities to be admitted.

Roberts also denounced oppressive policies that discouraged disabled people from taking charge of their own lives and segregated them in different homes and schools. While earning his BA and MA, Roberts helped develop the Physically Disabled Students Program, America’s first student-led disability services program. He was also instrumental in establishing the first Center for Independent Living, which served as a model for hundreds of similar agencies around the country.

Centers for Independent Living are non-profit community-based organizations developed and run by disabled people. They strive to ensure that disabled individuals can live independently in the community of their choosing, with the necessary services and support.

CILs are unique in that they operate under a rigorous consumer control principle, with people with all forms of disabilities directly governing and staffing the organization. Centers for Independent Living offer peer support, information, and referral, advocacy, independent living skills training, and help during times of transition. In the U.S. today, there are 403 Centers for Independent Living (CILs), 330 branch offices, and 56 Statewide Independent Living Councils.

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. named Roberts as Director of the California Department of Vocational Rehabilitation in 1976. The same agency had declared him too disabled to work at all years earlier. There, Roberts altered policy to provide resources to those with severe disabilities, which became a federal rehabilitation policy.

In 1983, he co-founded the World Institute on Disability (WID). Using funding from his MacArthur Foundation fellowship, Roberts began spreading the concept of independent living worldwide. He was the president of WID until he died in 1995.

Without people like Ed Roberts, the lives of people like me would look much different. I am forever grateful to Ed Roberts and all of the other disabled people who fought for me and others. Because of their efforts, accessibility is now a part of everyday life, inclusion is a priority, and the voices of disabled people are becoming more and more powerful.


“About Independent Living.” National Council on Independent Living, National Council on Independent Living, 30 May 2019,

“Centers for Independent Living.”, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts ,

“Ed Roberts.” The California Museum, The California Museum, 15 Feb. 2012,

Mehndiratta, Man Mohan et al. “Poliomyelitis: historical facts, epidemiology, and current challenges in eradication.” The Neurohospitalist vol. 4,4 (2014): 223-9. doi:10.1177/1941874414533352

Leon, Joan. ‘Ed Roberts’. Encyclopedia Britannica, 19 Jan. 2023,

Walter, Kristin, and Preeti N. Malani. ‘What Is Polio?’ JAMA, vol. 328, no. 16, Oct. 2022, pp. 1652–1652, https://doi.org10.1001/jama.2022.17159.


Do Disabled Students Recieve a Fair Education?

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-23
Posted in

Miguel Luna Perez of Michigan sued the public school system in Sturgis. Perez is now 27 years old. He is deaf and requires a certified interpreter to understand information.

According to Perez’s lawyers, the school system failed him by failing to provide a certified sign language interpreter. An aide who assisted him did not know ASL. However, she attempted to learn so-called Signed English from a book.

According to his lawyers, she essentially devised a signing system that only she and Perez understood, rendering him unable to communicate effectively with others. The school system also misled his parents into believing he was on track to graduate from high school. Just before graduation, his family was told by school officials that he only qualified for a “certificate of completion,” not a diploma.

In response, his parents filed claims under two different laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act is one law that forbids discrimination against those with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Act is the second law.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal special education statute that ensures public schools meet the educational requirements of students with disabilities. IDEA requires schools to offer special education services to eligible students as stated in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).

IDEA also has specific provisions for ensuring a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities (LRE). FAPE and LRE have protected rights for every eligible child in all fifty states and territories of the United States.

Disabled students should have access to the resources they require. Disabled students in the United States have the right to a free and appropriate public education. However, schools are often ill-equipped to provide resources. When support is inadequate, disabled students like Perez frequently fall through the cracks.


Gresko, Jessica. “Justices Seem to Lean toward Deaf Student in Education Case.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 18 Jan. 2023,

“IDEA.” NCLD, The United States Department of Education, 22 June 2022,


How Will Increased HUD Funding Benefit, Disabled People?

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-22
Posted in

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development distributes millions of dollars to local officials. The purpose of the funding is to assist disabled people in obtaining housing in their communities.

This month, the agency said it would give $24.7 million to 98 local public housing authorities to offer permanent affordable housing to disabled people. The funding is estimated to benefit up to 2,210 households, according to federal officials.

The funds are provided through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 811 Mainstream Housing Choice Voucher Program. It is intended to assist non-elderly disabled adults who are transitioning from institutions or other segregated settings, as well as those who are at risk of institutionalization or homelessness.

According to federal housing officials, local public housing authorities are expected to collaborate with community partners such as centers for independent living, state protection and advocacy organizations, and Medicaid agencies to assist with the application and initial housing search.

The Housing Choice Voucher program is a type of government rent assistance. The funds cover a portion or all of the voucher holder’s rent. Each household will spend between 30% and 40% of its income on rent on average. Many voucher recipients have a disabled member in their home. According to Bankrate, 43% of households receiving a voucher last year had at least one disabled family member.

It can be challenging for disabled people to find affordable and accessible housing. Apartment List conducted a study in 2020 utilizing data from the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey. Only 9% of households with a disabled family member, according to the survey, reside in an accessible home. Only 6% of homes in the United States are accessible, despite the fact that more than 15% of households include a physically disabled member.

The wait for housing is often years long. According to a CBPP analysis of HUD data, only two of the 50 largest housing agencies had average wait times of less than a year for families that made it off the waiting list; the longest had wait times of up to eight years. Families waiting for vouchers in the United States have been on waitlists for an average of more than 2.5 years.

Hopefully, by acknowledging how difficult it is to find accessible housing, we can all work together to reduce housing barriers for disabled people. All disabled people should have access to safe, affordable housing. Increased funding will allow more people to find housing. Housing is a fundamental part of life, and no one should struggle to find a place to live.


Acosta, Sonya, and Erik Gartland. “Families Wait Years for Housing Vouchers Due to Inadequate Funding.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 22 July 2021,

Heasley, Shaun. “Housing Vouchers Earmarked for People with Disabilities.” Disability Scoop, Disability Scoop, 20 Jan. 2023,

Miller, Maya. “What You Need to Know about How Section 8 Really Works.” ProPublica, Pro Publica Inc, 9 Jan. 2020,

Rivelli, Elizabeth. “Section 8 Housing Facts and Statistics.” Edited by Maggie Kempken, Bankrate, Bankrate, 6 Apr. 2022,

Warnock, Rob. “How Accessible Is the Housing Market?” Apartment List , Apartment List, 19 February, 2020,


Poverty Among Disabled People:

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-21
Posted in

CW: Poverty

Every January, the United States observes National Poverty Awareness Month. The simplest definition of poverty is the condition of not having enough items or resources to meet one’s fundamental needs. Poverty is caused by a variety of factors, including a lack of access to basic necessities such as food, water, and shelter, as well as education and healthcare. Systemic inequities such as gender, race, ability, and age also contribute to it.

Disabled people are disproportionately affected by poverty. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), disabled people faced food insecurity at a rate that was more than double that of non-disabled people in 2020. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 38.6% of sheltered homeless people in America are disabled.

According to a 2015 NPR article, Americans with disabilities are twice as likely as non-disabled Americans to live in poverty. Disabled people also have a difficult time finding work. Last year, 19.1% of people with disabilities in the United States worked. Furthermore, those who do not have disabilities are three times more likely to be employed than those who do.

Medicaid should also remove income and asset limits. Medicaid coverage is essential for millions of disabled Americans. My PCA hours are paid for by Medicaid. My PCAs assist me with toileting, dressing, transportation, and other necessities. I wouldn’t be able to get to work or use the restroom if it weren’t for my PCA. Without Medicaid, I couldn’t work full time. In reality, going an entire workday without using the restroom would be virtually impossible.

Disabled people should not have to worry about how they will pay for their meals or life-saving medication. This shouldn’t be a concern for anyone. Everyone deserves to be assured that they can pay all of their basic expenses. People shouldn’t go hungry or be homeless.


Fessler, Pam. “Why Disability and Poverty Still Go Hand in Hand 25 Years After Landmark Law.” NPR, NPR, 23 July 2015,

“Homelessness in America: Overview of Data and Causes.” The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, 2018,

Ives-Rublee, Mia, and Christine Sloane. “Alleviating Food Insecurity in the Disabled Community.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 22 Nov. 2021,

Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary – 2021.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2022,

Roberts, Lily, et al. “Removing Obstacles for Disabled Workers Would Strengthen the U.S. Labor Market.” Center for American Progress, Center for American Progress, 23 May 2022,

Rahman, Nushrat. “Michiganders with Disabilities Are Living in Poverty, Struggling to Afford Basics.” Detroit Free Press, Gannett, 21 Sept. 2022,

Stevens, Yolanda. “The Relationship between Poverty and Homelessness among Older Adults.” National Alliance to End Homelessness, National Alliance to End Homelessness, 19 Jan. 2023,


Adaptive Recreation Is an Outlet for Disabled People

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-20
Posted in

I’ve loved sports as far back as I can remember. I enjoy watching them on TV and going to games. Growing up, I also participated in adaptive sports as well.

When I was younger, I participated in a baseball program called Buddy Baseball. I liked being around other disabled people. As a teenager, I also participated in sled hockey.

I also enjoy swimming and biking. Swimming helps relax my spasticity and loosens my muscles. I can move around freely in the pool. Biking is one of my favorite lower-body exercises. Later this year, I plan to purchase a therapeutic bike. I enjoy using it at my local rehabilitation clinic.

Through sports, I met people with various disabilities. I spent several years studying martial arts as well. Socially, recreational activities allowed me to form some wonderful friendships. I met my best friend while taking Tae Kwon Do. He is now my roommate and full-time PCA.

Physical activity in any form is essential for disabled people. According to a 2021 report from the American College of Sports Medicine, physical activity among children with disabilities is four times lower than that of their non-disabled peers. Martial arts helped improve my stamina and balance. The physical therapists I worked with noticed improvement in my strength.

Recreational activities have many benefits for disabled people. I am grateful for the opportunities I had to experience sports. The relationships I formed through sports are some of my most cherished ones, and they would never have happened if I hadn’t participated in sports.


Havsy, Jane. “’I Can Do More’: NJ Kids with Physical Disabilities Struggle to Play, Compete.” Kids with Physical Disabilities Lack Access to Sports, North Jersey Media Group, 19 Jan. 2023,


The Forgotten Victims of Sexual Assault

By Grace W. Dow / 2023-01-19
Posted in

CW: Sexual assault:

A certified nursing assistant from Pomona, CA, was given a life sentence for recording himself sexually abusing disabled children at the group home where he worked. Federal authorities the charges on Tuesday. Steve Rodriguez was sentenced in Santa Ana on Friday.

According to federal officials, Rodriguez pled guilty in September to two counts of acquiring possession of a minor for the purposes of producing child pornography, five counts of making child pornography, and one count of enticing a minor to participate in illegal sexual activity.

Rodriguez produced sexually explicit material with four children. Three of the children have severe disabilities. They are residents at a group home where Rodriguez was employed for four years.

The group home is run by Inland Regional Center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The abuse went on for two years, and his youngest victim was only eight years old.

Unfortunately, disabled people are more likely to experience sexual assault or abuse. Sexual assault occurs seven times more common against intellectually disabled people than against non-disabled people. Abuse and neglect are common in facilities like the group home where Rodriguez worked.

Perhaps one of the most egregious examples of this occurred in January 2019. A nurse at a long-term care facility in Arizona raped and impregnated a woman with intellectual disabilities

Disabled people have the right to live free of abuse. There is no reason for abusing, neglecting, or killing disabled people. Disabled people should have the right to a life free of abuse and neglect. Disabled people are among America’s most vulnerable residents. Those charged with caring for some of them the most vulnerable members of society should never abuse them.


Solis, Nathan. “Caregiver Sentenced to Life in Prison for ‘Unspeakable’ Sexual Abuse of Disabled Children.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times Communications LLC, 18 Jan. 2023,

Shapiro, Joseph. “The Sexual Assault Epidemic No One Talks About.” NPR, NPR, 8 Jan. 2018,