12 Days of Disability Rights: The right to privacy and freedom

This is part of our ‘12 Days of Disability Rights‘ series, a dozen challenges that DRO has stepped up to fight on behalf of our community and will continue pushing forward with your help.


All Americans have the right to privacy and self-determination. This includes the right to make decisions about one’s own body and one’s own life as well as freedom from abuse and coercion.

For people with disabilities, these rights are too often compromised by others who make decisions for them. These can be decisions about where a person lives, whether they work, how they spend their money, whether they get married or have children, or whether they vote.

We believe that every person should be supported to make as many of those choices as possible for themselves, rather than someone else making it for them.

For example, many people are placed under the protection of guardianship – usually an all-encompassing legal status that has lifelong implications for the person’s ability to make decisions for themselves. Our work in the last year included making sure that people were protected from unnecessary guardianships, by advising and representing people who did not need guardians because they were able to make decisions for themselves. We also pushed back against violations of human rights that treat  people with disabilities as less than equals in the media, in institutions and in the courts.

All too often, the right of individuals to live free from abuse and neglect is violated. When people are abused, we step in to provide protection and advocacy. This can range from assisting a client to contact necessary state protection services, to doing our own investigations of serious abuse and neglect.

We also take steps to protect victims of abuse from further abuse. This year, we advocated to make sure that abuse survivors who are automatically registered to vote through the Oregon Motor Voter program will be able to protect their personal information from becoming public record and available to their abuser.

Over 800,000 Oregonians who have a disability are at risk of losing their right to make their own choices. Please consider a tax-deductible $80 donation to keep our work going.

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Check our 12 Days of Disability Rights series every day in December for updates.

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