Adopted on December 13th, 2006 at United Nations Headquarters, the Convention has been signed by 155 countries and ratified by 126 countries. Although the U.S. signed the CRPD in 2009, a recent ratification attempt failed. According to the U.S. Senate website, a resolution of ratification for the Convention was rejected, having failed to secure a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate. All 38 "nay" votes were cast by Republicans, with only 7 Republicans voting in favor of ratification. (Hat tip to Salon and Ms. Magazine)
The ratification failure comes after months of vocal Religious Right opposition to the Convention. As with other international human rights documents, Religious Right forced have marshaled opposition to the CRPD by lambasting it as an alleged affront to U.S. sovereignty, a threat to parental rights, and a harbinger of expanded abortion rights.
First, in a commentary at World Net Daily, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum slammed the convention, insisting that it would do nothing to help persons with disabilities in the U.S. Furthermore, he claimed that it would allegedly undermine parental authority by giving the government (supposedly operating under U.N. authority) ultimate authority over what is in the best interest of children with disabilities. Along similar lines, he claimed that the CRPD could destroy parents' right to educate children with disabilities as they see fit. The CRPD, Santorum concluded, was a sinister threat to American sovereignty.
"In short, there is no reason for our country to give up our sovereignty to the United Nations when it comes to providing benefits and protections for the disabled in America. Furthermore, it would be an egregious move to deny parents of children with disabilities the right to do what they think is in their child’s best interest in exchange for some illegitimate claim that disabled Americans will have better treatment abroad. CRPD must be defeated."On the December 3rd edition of Glenn Beck's radio show, Santorum lambasted the CPRD again, calling it a "canard". Beck himself called the proposed registration of children born with disabilities "Orwellian" and "fascistic". Conveniently, he ignored the passage on registration that would ensure disabled children's right to a name and nationality. Santorum and Beck made other wild accusations against the document, claiming that it would allow for state overreach and encourage abortion. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch.)
SANTORUM: The Marxists, socialists-slash-progressives ... want to have the government in the position where they are extending rights, and that the government therefore by giving you rights has obviously a lot more operational control of your lives.Santorum and Beck are in good company among the Religious Right. Multiple Religious Right voices have denounced the treaty for its real or imagined provisions. For instance, in a December 4th commentary at the Eagle Forum website, antifeminist Phyllis Schlafly speculated that "some pro-abortion supremacist judges" could use the CRPD to defend abortion rights if the convention were ratified. She mocked the treaty as a vehicle for "social engineering" and "feminist ideology."
BECK: One thing that I've been really worried about--first of all, devaluing life. That does this. It also tracked everybody. It also I think sets you up--you have the right to know and be cared for by your parents. I think that's a push for abortion, quite honestly, because if you are going to be held responsible years later, that will discourage adoption and discourage abortion, I think.
"The globalists are trying to stampede the U.S. Senate into ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The notion that the UN can provide more benefits or protections for persons with disabilities than the United States is bizarre. The United States always treats individuals better than any other nation. We certainly don't need a committee of foreigners who call themselves "experts" to tell us what to do. Under this treaty, we would be required to make regular reports to a "committee of experts" to prove we are obeying the treaty. These demands override national sovereignty in pursuit of social engineering, feminist ideology, or merely busybody interference in a country's internal affairs."The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has made similar accusations against the CRPD. In a July 3rd commentary, HSLDA Director of Federal Relations William A. Estrada wrote that the CRPD would allegedly undermine parental rights to homeschool their disabled children. He also warned that the CRPD would allegedly weaken U.S. sovereignty by creating an international oversight committee to supervise countries that have ratified the convention.
Also, in an August 20th commentary, HSLDA founder Michael Farris claimed that the CRPD would expand abortion rights. Specifically, he claimed that CRPD provisions that allow for reproductive rights and family planning education for disabled persons would result in the government paying "for Planned Parenthood-style education" and reproductive health services such as abortion.
Through bombastic, fearful rhetoric, the Religious Right demonized a human rights document that could have helped countless Americans with disabilities. By fearmongering over illusory threats to U.S. sovereignty, not to mention rousing right-wing ire over abortion, the Religious Right rejected a tool that could have helped strengthen the rights of disabled persons. Dozens of GOP Senators apparently followed suit, rejecting ratification. As usual, ideology and fear trump human rights in the right-wing universe.
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Right Wing Watch: How Unhinged Rhetoric Sank a Disabilities Rights Treaty in the Senate
American Civil Liberties Union: ACLU Disappointed with Senate's Failure to Ratify Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Maddow Blog: Senate GOP Kills Disabilities Treaty
Slate: Social Conservatives Kill a U.N. Treaty (Again)