Opinion | Biden must prove himself an ally for people with disabilities

While the current president-elect may state that he is an ally to people with disabilities, nothing he says matters until he passes legislation to meaningfully help them.


Hannah Kinson

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during a Biden drive-in rally on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. Around 200 cars parked on the grounds and a few people gathered at the front as Biden commented on a change in the presidency and promised to address issues with public health due to the Coronavirus.

Ally Pronina, Opinions Columnist

I understand why it means a lot to liberal disability advocates that Biden mentioned us in his speech, but a Biden victory does not automatically equate to a victory for disability advocates. While he may claim to be an ally, nothing he says matters until he passes policies to prove it.

Trump issued an executive order, saying hospitals need to do their best to save abortion survivors-despite the fact they are likely to have severe disabilities. This does something to try and stop the biggest form of ableism there is — not seeing babies with disabilities as worthy of a life. 

Once Biden does something similar, I will believe his victory is something people with disabilities should be celebrating. 

There have also been concerns about health care providers discriminating against people with disabilities due to the pandemic. What is Biden’s plan to fix that? Maybe he has one — or will address this issue after taking office —but it’s not a part of his disability plan. 

Some of Biden’s plans — while I’m sure do not have this intent — will cause difficulties for people with disabilities. Hospitals are concerned about the huge revenue loss Biden’s plan to reduce Medicare eligibility age will cause.

I’m not sure if decreasing Medicare eligibility age will lead to people who need government help receiving it. I do know that if hospitals lose revenue, it will be a disaster for people with disabilities who need consistent medical care. 

About 1 million workers with disabilities have lost their jobs when the pandemic was announced. COVID-19 has caused a mental health crisis. Current suicide and drug overdoses rates are way too high. 

Not only does Biden lack a plan of addressing these issues — his plan to close down the country will make them worse. While not specific to Iowa residents with disabilities, these problems affect them as well. 

I’ll give Biden the benefit of the doubt — it is nice to see politicians at least trying to help people with disabilities. I think he just needs to interact more with us and see where our current needs stand. That being said, it is a good thing he wants to end the wage gap between able-bodied people and people with disabilities.

Yet, they are forgetting Trump condemned abortions on people with Down syndrome. Both have appealed to the disability community — the media just does not want to create breaking news out of anything humane Trump does. This is pretty sad considering the current administration has done many things for us.

Liberal disability advocates are so focused on getting Democrats to notice them, they forget being Republican does not make you ableist. George Bush signed the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) into law — an actual revolution in disability rights. 

The only group I’ve ever felt repressed by is liberal feminists who think the right for a woman to control her body justifies using my genetic disease as a valid reason to deny me the basic human right of living. Biden could be one of them. 

Disability rights aren’t and shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Any candidate would have a plan for and do something for us. Let’s not get carried away and scream revolution before one actually occurs.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.