Stephanie Woodward Interview: Dragged from Her Wheelchair and Arrested at ADAPT Protest

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Interview with #ADAPT Activist Stephanie Woodward

We asked Stephanie Woodward about her feelings in the aftermath of her arrest on Capitol Hill protesting #HealthcareReform with National ADAPT, a Disability Rights organization.

The questions first address the responses seen in much of social media from many in the able-bodied population that focused on their feelings of pity for the protestors with disabilities. It had more to do with the fact they WERE disabled than the actual fight they were fighting. Many felt it “appalling” that people in wheelchairs would be treated as any other protestor who was asked to leave a Senate office but refused.

It bothered us at PUSHLiving.com, and we wrote a post about it that received a lot of support from our readers.

“Profound Images today from the National ADAPT Protest. Don’t feel sorry for them because they are in wheelchairs or were dragged out and arrested. They don’t want pity or #ableism. Feel sorry that they have now been put in this position of needing to Protest to save their own lives. #ADAPTandResist”

Stephanie Woodward sitting in wheelchair with arms tied behind back after being arrested on Capital Hill

Stephanie Woodward arrested on Capital Hill

Stephanie, did you know you were going to be arrested?

Yes, we knew it was a possibility.

 Did you expect and prepare for it?

We expected it and prepared for it as we always do when we do direct actions.

What do you say to those who view it as “how terrible they arrested and carried out those poor, disabled people”? We are all so proud of you and want to set the record straight as to your understanding of the risks.

I would say it’s terrible that it has come down to people having to protest to fight for their lives and the lives of millions of other disabled Americans whose lives and liberty are at risk with the $800 billion gash to Medicaid. I put my body on the line because lives are on the line. Don’t feel bad for me or any of us, join us in the fight to save our lives and liberty.

How are you feeling emotionally and physically? What can we do to help?

I am sore and tired, but I am continuing to organize. The fight is not over.

May I ask how you felt about who was responsible for making the call to order arrest? Do you feel it was justified and fair? I.e. You were treated like anyone else would be regardless of disability?

Well, our nondisabled folks were carried out too, and some were wheeled out in wheelchairs that weren’t theirs.

Capitol police can make the call in the hallways because that’s their domain.

Generally, Capitol police don’t arrest in offices unless the legislator asks them to so, it’s pretty clear McConnell didn’t care to talk to us because he ordered those of us in his office to be arrested.

Capitol police were acting on the order of McConnell when they carried me out.

I don’t blame them. They had a job to do, and so did I. It just so happens that our jobs conflicted.

Stepanie Woodward, Adapt activist is taken from wheelchair and handcuffed behind back on ground

Stepanie Woodward, #ADAPT activist being held by Capital Hill Police

That is an important point to make. There seems to be so much police bashing, and you are right to say that.

This is about a bill that will kill our people. McConnell did that. McConnell made the call to have me removed from his office for protesting a bill that will harm millions of my fellow Americans.

We need to focus on that.

I am shocked and angered we are here in this place. What do you feel about the pushback today on Sunday news stating, “There are no Medicaid cuts” by Kelly Anne Conway

I feel that she should learn to read.

Thanks for the laugh. Though it is not funny that depending on what media channel you watch you are told what is true.

There are millions, including the disabled, that think you are just “overreacting” and that this bill is needed to “cut the fat” and those real people who need it won’t lose benefits. That states will pick up the slack. Your response?

The states are already institutionalizing people.

What We Can Do to Help

1. Join local actions taking place this week

2. Consider giving to the #ADAPT GoFundMe campaign to cover activists’ expenses: https://www.gofundme.com/u2jc4-adapt ADAPT is a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom.

colorful illustration of wheelchair symbol with arms in air and breaking chains on arms apart. #rollwithADAPT

3. Learn about the five reasons you should try to stop the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

4. Call, email, and post to social media, calling on your U.S. Senators to oppose the BCRA. The top Senate targets are Murkowski (AK), Flake (AZ), Gardner (CO), Cassidy (LA), Collins (ME), Heller (NV), Portman (OH), Capito (WV).

ALASKA: Sen. Murkowski, (R)
HELP Cmte Legislative Aide Morgan_Griffin@murkowski.senate.gov • 202-224-6665
Legislative Director Garrett_Boyle@murkowski.senate.gov • 202-224-6665

ARIZONA: SEN JEFF FLAKE (R)
Legislative Assistant Helen Heiden • helen_heiden@flake.senate.gov • 202-224-4521

COLORADO: Sen. Cory Gardner (R)
Legislative Director Curtis Swager • curtis_swager@gardner.senate.gov • 202-224-5941
Ali Toal, Legislative Assistant • Alison_toal@gardner.senate.gov • 202-224-5941

LOUISIANA: Sen. Bill Cassidy (R)
Senior Health Policy Adviser Matt Gallivan * matthew_gallivan@cassidy.senate.gov • 202-224-5824
Research Analyst Davis Mills • David_Mills@cassidy.senate.gov • 202-224-5824

MAINE: Sen. Susan Collins (R)
Legislative Assistant Elizabeth Allen • elizabeth_allen@aging.senate.gov • 202-224-2523

OHIO: Sen. Rob Portman (R)
Legislative Assistant Sarah Schmidt • sarah_schmidt@portman.senate.gov • 202-224-3353

NEVADA: Sen Dean Heller (R)
Legislative Assistant Rachel Green • Rachel_Green@heller.senate.gov • 202-224-6244

WEST VIRGINIA: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R)
Legislative Assistant Dana Richter • dana_richter@capito.senate.gov • 202-224-6472
Legislative Correspondent Mike Fischer • Mike_Fischer@capito.senate.gov • (202) 228-1395
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Editors Note:

According to a Rolling Stone feature: “Why Disability Rights Activists Stormed Mitch McConnell’s Office.”

According to 2012 analysis by the National Council on Disability, a nonpartisan federal agency, it is substantially less costly to allow disabled people to live in their communities. In some states, it can cost over $300,000 annually to institutionalize a single disabled person – and that person could get community-based care for as little as $21,000. The Rolling Stone

Stephanie Woodward at a protest wearing glassed in an outdoor march. while pushing a hand controlled electric wheelchair

Stephanie Woodward is an Attorney and works at Center for Disability Rights as the Director of Advocacy

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