This week, thirty-eight Republican senators voted against ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The treaty is supported by more than 300 American disability rights organizations including every veterans group; it was written during the George W. Bush administration with his help in negotiations; it is modeled after our own Americans with Disabilities Act which was signed into law by George Bush, Sr. So why would Republicans oppose a bipartisan effort to protect people with disabilities around the world?
It was rejected by the usual list of fear-mongering Senate tools, fed by the Home School Legal Defense Association or HSLDA (also read here). Their own reasoning was contradictory and absurd. They claimed that it both had “no teeth” in getting other countries to actually make changes while also claiming that it would allow government to override parental choice with no proof of harm, that it would end homeschooling (whaaa???) and that it would force abortions on the disabled. These claims are so far-fetched it’s difficult to respond and yet they were enough to get 38 Republican senators to vote against protections for people with disabilities.
To clarify, the Supreme Court has consistently upheld the supremacy of the Constitution over international treaties (links to a well-sourced wikipedia page).
The treaty itself contains this disclaimer:
“Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions which are more conducive to the realization of the rights of persons with disabilities and which may be contained in the law of a State Party or international law in force for that State. There shall be no restriction upon or derogation from any of the human rights and fundamental freedoms recognized or existing in any State Party to the present Convention pursuant to law, conventions, regulation or custom on the pretext that the present Convention does not recognize such rights or freedoms or that it recognizes them to a lesser extent.”
The United States has not and will not lose its sovereignty to the UN. You are and will remain free to homeschool (within the parameters determined by your state). The innocuous sounding “right to health care” sounds innocuous because it is; it is not code for forced sterilization or abortion. It means that we cannot allow people with disabilities to languish and die simply because they are disabled.
Here is a list of the Senators who voted against ratifying the treaty: