Senate Considering UN Disability Treaty

Yesterday the U.S. Senate began debating whether or not to ratify the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty, which would recognize fundamental human rights for persons living with disabilities on an international level. Currently 124 countries have ratified the treaty, and 154 have signed it including the United States.

The treaty requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate in order to be ratified. However, over 30 conservative senators have already pledged to block any international treaty up for debate during the lame duck session. Many conservatives fear that ratifying the treaty would present a challenge to U.S. sovereignty. In addition, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires that persons with disabilities have equal access to reproductive health care, which some argue will lead to more abortions.

Supporters of the treaty believe it would revolutionize disability rights across the globe. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has called the claim that the treaty will lead to more abortions “absolutely, positively, factually inaccurate,” stating that the treaty only acknowledges what procedures are legal in that country. He also stated that he believed the Americans with Disabilities Act (which the treaty was modeled after) is the standard of disability rights, and the treaty would “take that gold standard and extend it to countries that have never heard of disability rights.”

Media Resources: UN dispatch 11/28/12; CBS News 11/27/12; Washington Post 11/27/12; Huffington Post 11/26/12

A wheelchair from Shutterstock

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