A United Nations treaty advocating equal rights for disabled people faces significant Republican opposition in the Senate this week. Many fear it could threaten U.S. sovereignty and say that it should not be addressed by lame-duck lawmakers.
It is important to keep in mind that no U.S. laws would have to be changed for this treaty. And, while Americans’ disability rights are already protected, it addresses global rights. Most nations do not treat their citizens as we are blessed to be treated here.
While “registering our disabled children” may conjure up notions of Nazi Germany, there is no allowance for the UN to confiscate children of any ability or disability.
• All children are registered at birth in the U.S. (We call it a birth certificate.)
• All children are then U.S. citizens (a nationality)
• No Children in the United States are taken from their parents at birth, unless the parents are declared unfit.
Supporters of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, say it's nonbinding and point out that wouldn't change or challenge U.S. law.
The Senate's Democratic majority, along with some Republicans, say the treaty is based on the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 and would help protect disabled Americans abroad. Global right, rather than exclusively American rights are being protected.
Thirty-six GOP senators, led by Mr. Lee and Sen. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania, have signed a letter opposing any action on international treaties during the postelection lame-duck session — more than enough to block the treaty.
The U.N. adopted the treaty in 2006. President Obama signed it in 2009, though it failed to move through the Senate — which must ratify all treaties — until this year. It has been signed by 154 nations and ratified by 126.
• Critics of the treaty say it could strip Americans of fundamental rights, such as denying parents the ability to home-school a child with disabilities if the U.N. committee — or another body carrying out its recommendations — determined it would be in the best interests of the child.
o Supporters of the treaty say since no American laws are altered, parents retain their rights to care for their disabled children
• Critics say that language calling for the disabled to have equal rights to reproductive health services could lead to abortions.
o Supporters say American abortion laws would not be changed.
• Opponents say the treaty is unnecessary because rights of Americans with disabilities are well protected under existing law.
o Supporters say the treaty is necessary to protect the rights of global citizens, not just Americans.