WASHINGTON, D.C., December 4, 2012, – The U.S. Senate has voted down a treaty that opponents warned could widen acceptance of abortion, deny the parents of special needs children their rights, and compromise U.S. sovereignty.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) failed to be ratified after a 61-38 vote.
“Today’s vote was a victory for human rights and for American sovereignty,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, an organization that testified against the treaty.
Article 25 of the CRPD called on nations to furnish the disabled “free or affordable health care…including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes.” Pro-life leaders warned that language could be interpreted to include abortion, as it has in the case of other UN treaties.
“The irony of including abortion in this treaty is that abortion especially targets the disabled in the womb,” Josh Craddock, international representative for Personhood USA, said in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com. “Persons with disabilities should not be exposed to violence and discrimination, either before or after birth.”
President Obama signed the treaty more than three years ago, but it needed two-thirds approval by the Senate for acceptance.
The vote, which took place just after noon, split mostly along party lines. Republicans John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, John Barrasso, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lisa Murkowski, Scott Brown, and Richard Lugar sided with the Democrats
“Trying to turn this into an abortion debate is bad politics and just wrong,” Sen. McCain said. The 2008 Republican presidential nominee has warned Republicans to “leave the [abortion] issue alone” in recent media appearances.
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Former Republican Senate leader Bob Dole, who had been recuperating from an illness at Walter Reed Hospital, came to the floor in a wheelchair to support the treaty.
A host of conservative leaders had turned public opinion against a ratification of the treaty. Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called the treaty a “Trojan horse that would usurp U.S. sovereignty and parental rights by putting the U.S. under the control of a panel of UN ‘experts’ on matters relating to the disabled.”
“Now, that CRPD is defeated, we know that United Nations won’t have oversight of how we care for our special needs kids,” said former Senator Rick Santorum, the father of a special needs daughter. “This treaty would have given the UN oversight of the healthcare and education choices parents with special needs kids make.”
Santorum, Senator Mike Lee, and homeschooling leader Mike Farris held a press conference last Monday inside the Senate to oppose the treaty.
Senate conservatives took up the same message on the chamber’s floor during debate.
Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma opposed CRPD’s “cumbersome regulations,” with non-binding guidelines to be drawn up by “potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said other nations would use the treaty as a means to criticize the United States, “while their countries will have been in full violation of virtually every provision of the treaty.”
However, proponents of the treaty like Sen. John Kerry said the treaty would require nothing of the United States and set a positive tone for other nations around the world.
The treaty strained the resolve of some Senate Republicans. Some 36 members had signed a letter against considering new treaties during the lame duck session. McCain said those people could vote for the UN convention today, because their letter only opposed consideration, not ratification.
Scott Brown and Richard Lugar, who were defeated for re-election, will not return next year.