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Omar Sultan Haque & Michael Ashley Stein, COVID-19 Clinical Bias, Persons with Disabilities, and Human Rights, 22 Health & Hum. Rts. J. 285 (2020).

Abstract: Persons with disabilities have historically been discriminated against by society, including fulfillment of the right to equal access to health care. The more egregious practices, historically as well as today, include outright denials of access to health care, involuntary sterilization, forced institutionalization, coerced treatment, and substituted decision-making. Discrimination also occurs by more insidious practices. For instance, the public health construct of DALYS (disability adjusted life years) “neutrally” devalues the lives of persons with disabilities relative to the lives of those without disabilities. Along the same lines, commonly accepted norms and practices lessen the priority of persons with disabilities for essential procedures, such as organ transplants. Moreover, clinical bias disproportionately affects some disabled people, particularly those who occupy racialized, gendered, and sexually marginalized intersections. Finally, many otherwise laudable programs, such as United Nations HIV/AIDS programming, neglected for decades to include persons with disabilities. This essay considers types of clinical bias against patients with disabilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, how such stigma impairs their equal access to health care, and how the application of international human rights norms would mitigate such impacts.