Disability rights activist Stephanie Woodward is now in a viral photo, but this isn’t the first time she’s fought for equality
Disability rights activist Stephanie Woodward is the subject of this now-viral photograph, which shows her hands zip-tied behind her back while she sits in her wheelchair. The photo was taken by fellow protestor Colleen Flanagan.
Woodward and Flanagan were among dozens of protestors participating in a die-in outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to protest cuts to Medicaid. The die-in was organized by ADAPT, an activist group which has been working for the rights of disabled Americans since the early 1980s.
Just prior to this photo, Woodward was removed from her wheelchair and carried out of the building, still chanting, “No cuts to Medicaid!”
Throughout the protest, Woodward was among those who live-tweeted her experience under #ADAPTandRESIST.
But this isn’t the first time Woodward or Flanagan have fought for the rights of Americans with disabilities. Woodward, who was born with spina bifida, is a disability rights lawyer and activist. She is the director of advocacy for the Center for Disability Rights. Flanagan, whose Twitter videos chronicled the die-in, is the co-founder of the Disability Action for Americans political action committee, which is “dedicated to inclusive justice for all Americans with and without disabilities,” according to its website.
The die-in was organized to protest Sen. McConnell’s healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the draft of which was released on the same day as the die-in. The bill cuts Medicaid, which many disability rights activists believe will reduce healthcare access for disabled and elderly people — especially by gutting funding for community-based services.
"Not only will AHCA take away our freedom, [but] that lost freedom will also cost Americans more money," said activist Dawn Russell in an ADAPT press release. "The nursing facilities that people will be forced into are much more expensive than the community-based services that AHCA would cut."
Lots of people are expressing horror over the image of people in wheelchairs being dragged out of them and arrested, but Flanagan retweeted this sentiment from disabled writer and podcaster Erin Hawley:
If you want to get involved, Woodward provided information about helping ADAPT protestors with legal fees resulting from the die-in.
You can also follow Woodward, Flanagan, and other activists to keep up with what’s happening in the disability rights community. But Woodward also has an important warning for all the new followers she has suddenly gained…
The right to a life where you can post about cats without having to worry about whether you will be able to find and afford quality healthcare is what Woodward and her fellow protestors are working for. So bring on the cats and the resistance, Stephanie. We’ll be here.