The Treaty To Block Parental Rights — CRPD
Yesterday, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the treaty. The White House expressed its dissatisfaction saying, in part, “We are disappointed that the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans today blocked the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would enshrine American standards that have been developed through decades of bipartisan cooperation.”
The treaty is an international human rights instrument of the United Nations to protect individuals with disabilities. Under the Convention, parties are bound ensure that disabled people enjoy the same human rights as their counterparts without disabilities, and full equality under the law.
Proponents of the treaty claim it would have helped “individuals with disabilities around the world obtain the rights and protections we have here in the United States. The ratification of this treaty would have unified us with millions of disability advocates, family members and self-advocates of all nations,” said Peter Burns, CEO of The Arc. He went on to say that The Arc will continue to fight for this legislation. Senator John Kerry and former Senator Bob Dole claimed it would advance the rights of disabled citizens across the world and further benefit Americans abroad, who already enjoy the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act here at home.
Opponents claim that CRPD, once ratified, would be the law of the land under the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Since it would trump state laws, it could be used as precedent by state and federal judges. In addition, children with disabilities would be required to register with the federal government at birth in accordance with Article 18.2 of the treaty. It also requires the collection of statistics and data, reporting on implementation and full cooperation of the federal government with the UN pursuant to Articles 31, 35, and 37, respectively.
Furthermore, under Article 23, the federal government is charged with “ensuring equal rights with respect to family life,” by preventing “concealment, abandonment, neglect and segregation of children with disabilities.” Article 24 advocates “enabling persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society,” and charges the federal government with ensuring such people are not “excluded from the free and compulsory primary education.”
These provisions do not support the rights of parents to decide what type of education is best for their child(ren), making them subject to the will of the government. While no one would argue against preventing concealment, abandonment, neglect and segregation of disabled children, or excluding them from school, many parents elect to home school their children. This treaty would provide an opportunity for the federal government to dictate to parents the manner in which their special-needs children are cared for and educated. An impersonal, one-size-fits-all government bureaucracy does not have the ability to make informed decisions on what constitutes “the best interest of the child” on a case by case basis. When the government determines what rights a parent enjoys, it can just as easily take those rights away.
Critics were also concerned with Article 25, which discusses “gender-sensitive” health care measures, including “the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes … including early identification and intervention as appropriate, and services designed to minimize and prevent further disabilities, including among children and older persons.” When taken in conjunction with Article 23-1(b), “The rights of persons with disabilities to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to age-appropriate information, reproductive and family planning education are recognized, and the means necessary to enable them to exercise these rights are provided,” experts explain it would expand the use of abortion in the United States by encouraging expectant mothers of special needs children or special needs adults to abort their pregnancies. As a nation, several studies have found around 90 percent of pregnancies testing positive for Down Syndrome are aborted.
Additionally, countries that ratify the treaty are required to cooperate internationally and are subject to monitoring of national implementation by the U.N. Members of the U.N. frequently charge the United States with human rights violations and this would simply be another inroad to do away with U.S. sovereignty.
Republicans who voted in favor of the measure are Kelly Ayotte (NH), John Barrasso (WY), Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), Dick Lugar (IN), John McCain (AZ), Lisa Murkowski (AK),and Olympia Snowe (ME). Republican Senator Mark Kirk (IL) did not vote.
The treaty will be brought forward after the new Congress is sworn in this coming January for another vote. Even with the election of Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), it is unlikely the treaty will pass in 2013. As a treaty, it requires a two-thirds majority in order to pass.
- Senate GOP Kills Controversial UN Disability Treaty (thenewamerican.com)
- Dysfunction and Lies: Senate Vote Beyond Shameful (themoderatevoice.com)
- This treaty crushes U.S. sovereignty (wnd.com)
- U.N. Soon to Take Your Parental RIghts Away and Sexualize Your Children (iamacitizen.wordpress.com)
- United Spinal Statement: Senate Vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Treaty (sacbee.com)