1st Edition

Disability Justice in Public Health Emergencies

Edited By Joel Michael Reynolds, Mercer E. Gary Copyright 2025
    170 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    170 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Disability Justice in Public Health Emergencies is the first book to highlight contributions from critical disability scholarship to the fields of public health ethics and disaster ethics. It takes up such contributions with the aim of charting a path forward for clinicians, bioethicists, public health experts, and anyone involved in emergency planning to better care for disabled people—and thereby for all people—in the future. Across eleven chapters, the contributors detail how existing public health emergency responses have failed and still fail to address the multi-faceted needs of disabled people. They analyze complications in the context of epidemic and pandemic disease and emphasize that vulnerabilities imposed upon disabled people track and foster patterns of racial and class domination.

    The central claim of the volume is that the ethical and political insights of disability theory and activism provide key resources for equitable disaster planning for all. The volume builds upon the existing efforts of disability communities to articulate emergency planning priorities and response measures that take into account the large body of qualitative and quantitative research on disabled people’s health, needs, and experiences. It is only by listening to disabled people’s voices that we will all fare better in future public health emergencies.

    The book will be of interest to scholars and graduate students working in bioethics, disability studies, public health policy, medical sociology, and the medical humanities.

    Why Only Disability Justice Can Prepare Us for the Next Public Health Emergency Mercer E. Gary and Joel Michael Reynolds

    Part I: Crisis in the Clinic

    1. Disability Rights and Disability Justice as Gestalt Shifts for Triage Decision-Making in a Pandemic Katie Savin and Laura Guidry-Grimes

    2. Incorporating Social Determinants of Health into Crisis Standards of Care April Dworetz

    3. Tragic Choices: Disability, Triage, and Equity Amidst a Global Pandemic Joseph A. Stramondo

    Part II: Multiply Marginalized

    4. “We are a Compromise”: A Social Security Model of Disability During Covid-19 Katie Savin

    5. Chronic Injustice: On Racialized Disablement and the Urgency of the Everyday Desiree Valentine

    6. Long COVID and Disability: Navigating the Future Nicholas G. Evans

    7. Patient-Centered Communication and Resource Allocation for Non-Speaking People During Crises Ally Peabody Smith

    Part III: Before the Next Pandemic

    8. Long Covid and Disability Justice: Critiquing the Present, Forming the Future Sarah Clark Miller

    9. Not Everything is a Pandemic: The Challenge of Disability Justice Perry Zurn

    10. Education as Bioethics: Oppression and Pandemic Public Education Kevin Timpe

    11. Building Institutional Trustworthiness in Emergency Conditions: Lessons from Disability Scholarship and Activism Corinne Lajoie


    Joel Michael Reynolds is Senior Research Scholar in the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Associate Professor of Philosophy and Disability Studies at Georgetown University, and Faculty in the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics and the Department of Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and Medical Center. They are author or coauthor of six books and over sixty publications spanning philosophy and biomedical ethics.

    Mercer Gary is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Drexel University and a Presidential Scholar at The Hastings Center. Her first book, The Limits of Care: Making Feminist Sense of Technology Relations, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.