In the United States, “Ally’s Law” is a household word. It refers to a law guaranteeing access to employee restrooms for people with ostomies, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
In the United States, “Ally’s Law” is a household word. It refers to a law guaranteeing access to employee restrooms for people with ostomies, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. It is named after a fourteen year old girl in the U.S. with Crohn’s Disease, Allyson Bain.
Ally was in a large store in a mall in Chicago, doubled over in pain, urgently needing a toilet. She was refused access, despite pleading with the manager. Ally had an accident in the store and vowed that this should never happen to anyone else. Ally went to see her representative in the legislature, Kathleen Ryg, and together they were successful in getting the first “Ally’s Law” passed in the state of Illinois. Sixteen other states have since followed suit, all passing their own “Ally’s Laws”.
Unfortunately, what happened to Ally happens all the time. What was different in her case was her courage to speak publicly about her experience and advocating tirelessly for change. In the process she has made a difference in the lives of countless thousands of people.
In New Zealand there is another courageous fourteen year old, Nicole Thornton. Nicole’s petition for an Ally’s Law in New Zealand is still under consideration in Parliament, but has met opposition from business owners and organisations. Nevertheless, as a direct result of her petition, the Ministry of Health is considering measures to expand access to toilets and raise awareness about the needs of ostomates and those with IBD. Last year Nicole and Kate Montgomery (one of Camp Purple’s volunteers) spoke passionately and convincingly about the need for change at a public hearing of the Health Select Committee.
Allyson Bain is now a lawyer working for the American Civil Liberties Union in Chicago. She is still advocating for people’s rights and has been in contact with Nicole, supporting her efforts for change. In November, in partnership with CCNZ, Ally will be coming to New Zealand. With Nicole, she will be addressing the Annual Scientific Meeting of the NZ Society of Gastroenterology on patient advocacy. Her address will likely be a highlight of the meeting. A second speaking engagement is currently being arranged in Australia.