Lawmakers Still Concerned About Abortion in Disability Treaty

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 2, 2012   |   1:35PM   |   Washington, DC

Last week, LifeNews blogger Bill Saunders highlighted the abortion concerns in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty under consideration in the Senate. Those concerns remain and have been brought up in a new letter from pro-life House lawmakers.

Lisa Correnti of CFAM provides an update on the status of the treaty:

The treaty passed out of committee last week and once the resolution has been filed the next step would be for Sen. Reid to bring the treaty to the full senate for a vote.

During the mark-up session Sen. Rubio (R-FL) presented an amendment that would have eliminated any interpretation that abortion is covered in reproductive health under article 25. Rubio’s amendment was then amended by Sen. Kerry in favor of a  more vague explanation that reads “nothing in the Convention, including Article 25, addresses the provision of any particular health program or procedure.”

Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY-25) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH-4) penned a letter to Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) yesterday addressing areas of concern; the inclusion of the phrase “sexual and reproductive health,” the undermining of parental rights, and violating the principles of US sovereignty.

Below is part of the text of the letter from the lawmakers:

The language in the Disabilities Convention is troubling.  For example, it lacks a clear definition of “disability,” which it defines as “an evolving concept.” This ambiguity invites abuse by persons or groups who do not suffer from a recognized medical disability, yet seek resources and protection under the authority of the Disabilities Convention and could complicate the implementation of the Disabilities Convention in the United States.  Additionally, while the treaty’s main purpose is to ensure the rights and protections of the disabled, the Disabilities Convention revisits the debates regarding “reproductive health” as it relates to “abortion rights.” While Disabilities Convention signatories have claimed that the inclusion of the phrase “sexual and reproductive health” is not intended to include abortion, abortion advocates and U.N. officials have pointed to the Disabilities Convention as a means to further build their case in favor of abortion as a human right.

Grace Meltoin, an analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation, has also provided additional insight into the abortion concerns the treaty presents.

Defenders of national sovereignty and pro-life advocates alike can imagine the CRPD committee—tasked with evaluating compliance with the treaty and reviewing country reports every four years—using this language to pressure the U.S. to liberalize its domestic abortion laws or policies governing foreign aid for family planning. In fact, U.N. officials have already pointed to language in the CRPD to build their case for expanding abortion rights under the sexual and reproductive health framework.

The United States understands that the phrase “sexual and reproductive health” in Article 25(a) of the Convention does not include abortion, and its use in that Article does not create any abortion rights, cannot be interpreted to constitute support, endorsement, or promotion of abortion, and in no way suggests that abortion should be promoted as a method of family planning.

If, as Senators Kerry, Barbara Boxer (D–CA), and Bob Casey (D–PA) repeatedly assured everyone, the language of the CRPD will have no impact on abortion and will not pose any concern to pro-lifers, one can only wonder why the Democrats would all vote to reject the language in the Rubio amendment.

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Meltoin concludes that the Senate should not ratify the treaty because of the abortion concerns remaining in it, saying it would “give abortion advocates yet another U.N. document to use in their arsenal.”