Petition Closed
Petitioning Texas State House and 2 others

Change the laws that discriminate against the autistic and mentally disabled.

Caregivers left my autistic sister, Rebekah, in a hot van for over five hours. When they finally found her, she was unconscious and clinging to life. A month later, she was dead.

My family wants justice for wrongful deaths like Rebekah’s. In Texas, only the victim’s spouse, children, or parents can file a wrongful death suit. The mentally disabled often outlive their parents and seldom do they have spouses or children, so in cases like ours, they are left without justice. This limitation discriminates against people with disabilities and their loved ones by blocking their ability to seek civil, legal recourse. The caregivers at Sean Ashley House left my sister in a hot van to die, yet under Texas law, my family had no standing to file a wrongful death suit. This is wrong. Texas laws allow institutions, organizations, and people who neglect or harm the mentally disabled to stay in operation eliminating the threat of wrongful death suits. This means that disabled people are neglected, hurt and killed in Texas, and there is often little legal recourse, criminally or civilly. 

We want Texas to give legal guardians of severely mentally disabled people the right to file wrongful death suits on behalf of the individuals they cared for.

Disabled people are often put in danger by their caregivers. In fact just three days after Rebekah was found in hot van, caregivers left another person to die in a van in Dallas. The disabled victims of neglect deserve to have their voices heard even after they are gone. Why should their disability and their circumstance prohibit their families from seeking justice?

For my family, it is too late, but this issue is larger than us.

Ordinary people often have the opportunity to find a spouse and have a family. Sadly, for many severely disabled people, this is not the case. In a sense, disabled people are treated as second-class citizens. And in the case of their wrongful death, there is little legal recourse.

Texas needs to change this discriminatory statute and allow guardians of the severely disabled to fight for justice for the ones they loved and cared for. Join me and tell Gov. Abbot and the Texas House and Senate to allow guardians to file wrongful death lawsuits for the people they loved, therefore holding those that killed them accountable.

https://www.facebook.com/justiceforrebekah #JusticeForRebekah #BeTheirVoice #DisabledLivesMatter

This petition was delivered to:


    Syleta Harkins started this petition with a single signature, and now has 60,612 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.




    Today: Syleta is counting on you

    Syleta Harkins needs your help with “Change the laws that discriminate against the autistic and mentally disabled in Texas. To: Texas State House, Texas State Senate, Greg Abbott”. Join Syleta and 60,611 supporters today.