Ethical Assumptions and Ambiguities in the Americans With Disabilities Act
Kopelman, Loretta M.
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 1996 Apr; 21(2): 187-208.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) promotes social justice by protecting disabled persons from discrimination and prejudice. It seeks equality of opportunity for them and protects their well being by giving them fair access to goods, services and benefits. These rights are circumscribed in the ADA, however, by constraints of costs, efficiency, utility, and certain social mores. The ADA offers little direction about how to set priorities when these values come into conflict, or about whether equality of opportunity favors equivalent or preferential treatment for disadvantaged people. Until these ambiguities and potential value conflicts are resolved, a central moral and social problem remains unresolved: How can we demonstrate commitment to the rights and welfare of those with severe disabilities while placing fair limits upon their claims? Five special concerns are discussed: (1) eligibility and the allocation of health care; (2) the meaning of "qualified but disabled" in employing people with mental disabilities; (3) equal opportunity and problems of envy and malingering; (4) ADA accommodation and public protection through testing and licensure; and (5) ADA protection and problems of backlash. Rather than simply wait to see what courts and administrative agencies decide, we should evaluate the moral conflicts, articulate criteria, and help make some difficult choices on morally defensible grounds.
Adults; Allowing to Die; Anencephaly; Beneficence; Birth Weight; Congenital Disorders; Costs and Benefits; Decision Making; Democracy; Disabled Persons; Drug Abuse; Discrimination; Education; Emergency Care; Employment; Equal Protection; Family Members; Federal Government; Futility; Government; Health; Health Care; Hospitals; Justice; Legal Aspects; Legal Rights; Legislation; Licensure; Life; Low Birth Weight; Newborns; Patient Admission; Persistent Vegetative State; Physicians; Prolongation of Life; Regulation; Resource Allocation; Rights; Risks and Benefits; Social Discrimination; Values; Ventilators; Withholding Treatment;
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