Hidden Abortion Agenda in UN Convention on Disability Rights

International   |   Bill Saunders and Stephanie Maloney   |   Jul 20, 2012   |   10:20AM   |   Washington, DC

Senator John Kerry (D–MA), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, is calling for a vote by July 26 on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)—just two months after President Obama sent the treaty to the Senate. Despite its attractive and seemingly innocuous title, the CRPD represents yet another push to ensconce abortion rights in an international treaty.

From a cursory reading, the international treaty appears to deserve the broad bipartisan Senate support it has received. Its stated purpose is to “promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.”[1] It strives to implement greater equality and legal protection, better health care access, and a higher standard of living for the disabled around the world. Signed by 153 countries and ratified by 117, it purports to combat the stigma and negative stereotypes that face the millions of people with intellectual and development disabilities.

Yet a nuanced reading exposes the more subtle and invidious abortion agenda of the treaty. Specifically, Article 25 of the Convention requires States Parties to: “[p]rovide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality, and standard of free or affordable health care and programs as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes.”[2]

The inclusion of the phrase “reproductive health” affords an opportunity for abortion advocates to interpret the terms as a euphemism for “abortion rights” and push for nations to legalize abortion based on the treaty. Indeed, this interpretation of “reproductive health” is the position of the Obama Administration. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to this effect, stating “We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women’s health, and reproductive health includes access to abortion.”[3]

Unwilling to be explicit and clear about its objectives, the pro-abortion faction within the UN has used the realm of disability rights to provide cover for an attempt to interject the right to abortion into an international treaty. If the US ratifies it, the treaty becomes the law of the land, providing a potential abortion back-up for the day the Supreme Court finally overturns Roe v. Wade.

Human dignity is not something to be “awarded” on the basis of one’s capacities and abilities. Rather it is inherent and inviolable, part of the very nature of the human person, whatever his or her state of physical and mental development. The dignity of the person is universal, and must be upheld, equally, for all. It is sadly ironic that a treaty aimed at securing recognition of the dignity of some (the disabled) would be written so as to put at jeopardy the dignity of others (the unborn).

The inclusion of Article 25 within the CRPD should prevent the United States Senate from ratifying the treaty. Americans United for Life urges all pro-life supporters to contact their United States Senators and ask them to oppose the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.



[1] Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, art. 1.

2 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, art. 25(a) (emphasis added).

3 Hearing, New Beginnings: Foreign Policy Priorities in the Obama Administration, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, 111th Cong., 1st Sess., 22 April 2009, at https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/111/48841.pdf.