Straight Up with Sherri

Sunday, May 01, 2005

9th Circuit Makes a Ruling that I Actually LIKE???

Handicapped Russian eligible for political asylum

Sunday, May 01, 2005
By Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times

In a case spotlighting horrific conditions for disabled children in Russia, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled the other day that the family of a handicapped Russian child who was persecuted there for his condition is eligible for political asylum in the United States.

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Stephen Reinhardt noted that the family might well qualify for asylum because simply caring for a disabled child in Russia could be viewed as a political act. But the ruling also asserted a more basic principle: "In providing care for their disabled children, parents are doing something more fundamental than engaging in politics."

The court's decision stemmed from unspeakable events in the life of Evgueni, who was born to Victoria and Dmitri Tchoukhrova in Vladivostok in 1991.

The child's disability resulted chiefly from medical negligence during his birth at a Russian state-owned hospital, where staff members first induced labor and then abandoned the mother for an entire night, depriving the fetus of sufficient oxygen.

The next morning, because induced labor had stopped, hospital personnel tried to forcibly extract the child. In the process, they broke his neck.

Instead of giving the newborn child medical care, the hospital staff initially "threw Evgueni into a container holding" remains of aborted babies and medical waste, Reinhardt wrote, telling his mother that "they didn't see the reason why he needed to live." The mother fell into unconsciousness.

"Against all odds," Reinhardt wrote, the child survived and was retrieved from the disposal bin.

Then, government officials tried to intimidate the couple into abandoning their son to a state-run orphanage. The parents refused, but Evgueni was transferred to an institution for orphaned children with birth defects.

The parents had to battle for two months to gain entrance to the facility, where they found children "wrapped in old, wet, dirty linens," abandoned and crying out in hunger.

The Tchoukhrovas eventually got Evgueni out of the orphanage and into a private clinic. After the child was diagnosed as permanently disabled, he was denied any government medical care.

At the age of 3, Evgueni accompanied his parents to San Diego, where through treatment there he was able to walk for the first time.

However, when the family returned to Russia, government officials still treated him with disdain. He was denied access to public school, despite the fact that his disability was physical and not mental.

Five years ago, the family returned to the United States, where Victoria filed the principal application for political asylum. An immigration judge found that the family's testimony was credible but ruled that the suffering did not rise to the level of persecution, and so denied the asylum request. The Bureau of Immigration Appeals upheld that decision.

The 9th Circuit reversed that ruling.


  • With 47 justices from which to choose, any panel of three could possibly produce nearly any result. This is, in my opinion, a good ruling. But I am still skeptical about the Ninth as a whole. I often wonder why there is so much disagreement among courts and judges on these issues.

    By Blogger Right Wing Nut Job, at 1:27 AM  

  • Gut wrenching story ! And Russia does have one of the more advanced Special ed systms comparatively in the world. I did visit some of their special schools. I use to be able to say "Thank G-d I live in the USA" after hearing a story like that....I can't say that any more...we have our own horror stories with special ed rulings..! I pray that the courts continue to show favor on this child...and do not reverse rulings once he gets here. i fear for disabled people in this country..

    By Anonymous JoMarley, at 8:43 AM  

  • Dear Right Wing,
    It's a bit like "Judicial Roulette", huh!?


    By Anonymous JoMarley, at 9:09 AM  

  • JoMarley,
    It is a game of roulette. Here is the scorecard, so you can tell the players.

    Incidently, my oldest daughter is a Special Education teacher. She teaches Resource Reading in a suburban school district here in Omaha. Additionally, she is the Drama Club and Forensics coach (among so many other things). It is amazing how so many of her students have certain learning disabilities, but are so normal in every other regard. I'm particularly amazed at how some can become a totally different person when portraying a character in a play. To look at one disability and write someone off as useless is so wrong.

    By Blogger Right Wing Nut Job, at 11:43 AM  

  • Please pray for Beagle.


    By Blogger levi from queens, at 12:54 PM  

  • Thank you levi.
    For anyone who wishes to leave a message for Beagle (Chip), this is his blogsite.

    By Blogger Right Wing Nut Job, at 1:18 PM  

  • Did y'all catch the newest South Park?

    Conservatives ♥ [heart] 'South Park'

    In the March 30 episode, Kenny, a kid whose periodic death is a "South Park" ritual, lands in a hospital in a "persistent vegetative state" and is fed through a tube. The last page of his living will is missing. Demonstrators and media hordes descend. Though heavenly angels decree that "God intended Kenny to die" rather than be "kept alive artificially," they are thwarted by Satan, whose demonic aide advises him to "do what we always do - use the Republicans." Soon demagogic Republican politicians are spewing sound bites ("Removing the feeding tube is murder") scripted in Hell. But as in the Schiavo case, they don't prevail. Kenny is allowed to die in peace once his missing final wish is found: "If I should ever be in a vegetative state and kept alive on life support, please for the love of God don't ever show me in that condition on national television."

    By Blogger Przud, at 3:42 PM  

  • Przud,
    I didn't catch this episode - but I will look for it; thanks for the heads up. I am really a great fan of South Park (named for the school district, actually). There is one tiny point that I do disagree with in Frank Rich's commentary. Trey Parker and Matt Stone intend to offend everyone! They are equally abrasive toward the right and the left. They are particularly brutal to those who border on the extreme as Mr. Rich and I do. I am waiting for May 17 with bated breath for Team America World Police!

    By Blogger Right Wing Nut Job, at 4:10 PM  

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