Well-known disability rights advocate dies at age 47; cardiac arrest
KUSA – 9NEWS.COM – The disability rights advocate community lost one of its mightiest members, Carrie Ann Lucas.
Lucas was a nationally known disability rights attorney and a mother of four children, each of whom are adopted and living with disabilities. She was only 47 years old.
Her death was announced by family and friends on her Facebook page:
“[Lucas] died after an arbitrary denial from an insurance company caused a plethora of health problems, exacerbating her disabilities and eventually leading to her premature death.”
Lucas lived with a rare form of muscular dystrophy, which slowly progressed and she became reliant on a power wheelchair and a ventilator during the last few years of her life. She also lived with type 1 diabetes, as well as hearing and vision difficulties.
Lucas’ death was ultimately a result of her insurance company, UnitedHealthCare, refusing to pay for one specific inhaled antibiotic.
She caught a bad case of the cold in January of 2018 but was denied access to proper treatment. As a result, she had to take a less effective drug, and she had a set of adverse reactions to this drug.
This led to spiraling health issues, including the loss of speech, and she had numerous stays in the intensive care unit during the past year. The healthcare company refused to pay for the needed drug allegedly to save $2,000.
If you haven’t heard of Lucas and her work, then you are unfortunately not alone.
During this time of society when it has become acceptable to discuss topics that were once considered taboo, such as gay rights and reproductive rights, discussions surrounding disability rights issues are still kept in secrecy.
Discussing disability issues often makes the mainstream population uncomfortable. It’s not as “sexy” as equal marriage rights or climate change.
When disability is represented in media, it is mostly through the lenses of pity or inspiration—never through a human rights perspective. Read more.
Carrie Ann Lucas
Carrie Ann Lucas (November 18, 1971 – February 24, 2019) was a lawyer, disability rights advocate, and activist in the United States. She founded Disabled Parents Rights, an organization to fight discrimination against parents with disabilities.
In addition to fighting for parents’ rights in Colorado and nationally, she also worked to combat “right to die” legislation. With others from ADAPT, she was arrested after a 58-hour sit-in in the office of Colorado Senator Cory Gardner in 2017.
Carrie Ann Lucas was an athlete studying sports medicine when, after graduating from Whitworth College, she was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease. She was an ordained minister, graduating from the Iliff School of Theology, and also worked as a teacher while living in Saipan. As her symptoms progressed, she took a semester off from law school to study Braille and sign language, eventually graduating 15th in her class at the University of Denver Law School.
While working for the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, she was lead plaintiff for a class action suit against Kmart, one of the largest accessibility class action settlements to date.
In 2004, Lucas founded the Center for the Rights of Parents with Disabilities. She was an advocate in the Disability Rights Movement with organizations such as ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, and the National Council on Disability for many years. She ran for public office in Windsor, Colorado in 2017.
Hard of hearing and legally blind, breathing through a ventilator and using a power wheelchair, she raised four adopted daughters with developmental and physical disabilities.
In February 2019, at the age of 47, Lucas suffered cardiac arrest and died from complications from an ensuing infection.
According to friends and family, Lucas’ death was hastened by her insurance company’s denial of necessary medication.