Disability Activist Annie McDonald has died
I have only just learned, via Vass, that Australian Disability Activist Annie McDonald died late last month at age 49.
Annie was the tiny girl with severe cerebral palsy, institutionalised since three, whose intellect was assumed to be as dysfunctional as her body until, with Rosemary’s help, she persuaded the Supreme Court she had the wit and maturity to decide her future.
It was a huge story. When Rosemary cradled 18-year-old Annie – then the size of a five-year-old and weighing just 16kilograms – and helped her fight violent spasms and guide her hand to spell out her wishes, who was really speaking? ‘‘It was like the Lindy Chamberlain case,’’ recalls one old friend. ‘‘Everyone had an opinion.’’ The notion of intelligent life trapped in such a body distressed, and for many, including some of Annie’s family, beggared belief.
The court released Annie from St Nicholas’ Hospital – ‘‘hell’’, she called it – and she went home with Rosemary and Chris. There the book ended, but not Annie’s story. What happened next spills through the colourful rooms of their house.